Italy's game of euro chicken

It will surely swerve first

Italian honor guards.
(Image credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

The Greek crisis is only a few years in the rearview mirror, and Brexit is still in the process of negotiation, but the European Union is already face to face with a new crisis. Italy, having finally formed a government composed of left- and right-wing populists, saw that government collapse after its president, Sergio Mattarella, rejected the coalition's finance minister over his pronounced euroscepticism. Mattarella's extraordinary intervention in vetoing the choice of a democratically-elected government has only inflamed populist passions. New elections are likely, and the markets have followed political events into turmoil. Even Britain has reason to worry about the impact of the crisis on the course of their own exit from the European Union.

The chief populist complaint is that the euro operates for the benefit of Germany, and at the expense of countries like Italy. And with Italian unemployment still in the double-digits years after the end of the Great Recession, they have a point. But German domination of the European Union — particularly in monetary policy — was not only predictable; it was explicit. Why, then, was Italy so determined to adopt the euro in the first place?

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Noah Millman

Noah Millman is a screenwriter and filmmaker, a political columnist and a critic. From 2012 through 2017 he was a senior editor and featured blogger at The American Conservative. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Politico, USA Today, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Foreign Policy, Modern Age, First Things, and the Jewish Review of Books, among other publications. Noah lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.