THE U.S. TURNING POINT DRIVEN BY WOMEN, WHILE ITALY GOES BACKWARDS

The American turning point represented by the reconquest of the White House by the Dems is being driven by women and the growing South. Quite the opposite of what is happening in Italy, where gender equality has taken steps backward and the government is entrenched in a state of emergency.

 

America has taken a turn and it is enough to observe carefully how the state of Georgia, which proved crucial in the presidential elections, has changed socially to understand the extent of the phenomenon. The other crucial element to understand the change that is affecting American society comes from women, who were the protagonists of the democratic vote and of the victorious outcome that led to their large political representation in the new administration.

 

Thanks to women and the Southern states, whose social structure has changed so much, a pact with the population was created for an orderly vote, counted multiple times, with an enormous effort to ensure a certain outcome, despite the controversy. An even more heroic effort if one takes into account the record number of voters amounting to over 159 million (out of 239 million of the population qualified to vote and 213 million registered). A record that shows that having functioning institutions also helps to overcome a heated electoral feud. 

 

When we compare the data from the 2016 election with only 157 million registered voters and 137 million actual voters, the change is apparent. It is democratic representation that always wins, despite the invasive and unexpected protests that saw an immediate restoration of order in the run-up to today’s swearing-in. It is only by looking at the social change, crucial to Biden’s victory, that we can understand how much the United States needed an inclusive government, ready to turn around under a banner that unites an entire people despite the recent protests.

 

Returning to Georgia, its population has grown from 7.9 million to 10.6 million from 2000 to 2019, with the share of foreign-born citizenship now exceeding 10 percent. While Republicans remain in the majority in rural areas, an accurate portrait of 21st-century Georgia should include not only peach and peanut farms, but also the DeKalb farmers market, a global culinary bazaar in Atlanta suburbs with workers from 40 countries that attracts immigrants and bourgeois native bohemians.

 

Charles S. Bullock III, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, puts this state in a category that also includes Virginia, North and South Carolina, Florida and Texas that he calls the “Growing South” as opposed to the “Stagnant South” represented by states like Mississippi and Arkansas. He argues that this may be a better way to think about the region’s change and the growing strength of Democrats in parts of it, than the old dichotomy between “Deep South” and “Rim South” states. Southern states have attracted an ethnic and multiracial population, from Hispanics to a variety of citizens of Asian descent like Koreans, Indians and Chinese. These groups all moved primarily to the Democratic voting area.

 

Now the focus shifts to the first 100 days and the most important thing will be the effort on the economic and fiscal incentive linked to spending that will be initiated by Biden and will be led by an Administration made of experts who have a great deal of political experience, limiting those representatives of the extreme left, who could satisfy Sanders’ ambitions but create problems for Biden’s real goal: have a moderate Administration made of unassailable and great personalities.

 

Among the nominees are 3 African-American and 3 Latin-American undersecretaries and a gender and minority balance that is absolutely unique compared to the past. This is intended to represent, in Biden’s words, “the actuality of the country, so that people can all see themselves represented.”

 

In the first two weeks what the markets expect as first measures are: greater moderation on mortgage payments, liberalizations on social issues and on the free movement of visas, a new plan on infrastructures, an immediate adhesion to the Climate Pact towards COP26 and a new emergency protocol on COVID that includes both vaccines (at least 100 million vaccinated already promised in the first 100 days) and the obligation to respect the prevention measures in accordance with the State and private insurance companies. Further resources will certainly be added to the already voted package of 900 billion US dollars, keeping it below 2 trillion and with a great emphasis on businesses for 440 billion and 350 billion US dollars for local governments.  Priorities that paradoxically do not seem to be present in the Italian plans for the post-Covid recovery and where Italy seems to be focusing once again only on the State, turning its back to Women and not following up on its promises to make an active commitment to change the employment and salary situation in the country.

 

Italy: lack of flexibility and backward steps on gender equality do not give credibility to the Government

Italians have given great proof of adaptation and adjustment to the emergency, but one cannot ask the impossible in the face of a severe recession by demonstrating that they have learned nothing in a year: the places of intensive care that are increased marginally compared to promises; the absence of treatment for asymptomatic positives left free to infect; the underestimation of the second wave and of infrastructure needs to support the vaccine plan; the failure of triage and APP Immuni and finally the red zone decreed in Lombardy, which is the economic heart of the country, instead of giving flexibility to productive activities and workers by limiting only the restrictions to the over 70, since more than 85% of deaths are related to the age group 70-90.  An age group that has priority over vaccines.

 

The outcome of this year is a government that is entrenched in a state of emergency and presents a National Plan for Recovery (PNRR) and Next Generation EU Resilience apparently based on three pillars, Women, Youth and the South, but full of inconsistencies and centered on the State rather than on a winning alliance between the State and the private sector to restore competitiveness and productivity, factors that are making the difference in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and even in the United States of America.

 

Citizens, businesses, municipalities, regions and the third sector seem to be cut out of the PNRR or relegated to a few lines that also pass in exports and Industry 4.0 from state-owned enterprises. It is also useless to seek in the few pages of the plan dedicated to tourism a clear project on the revival of a crucial component of our GDP.

 

However, the greatest disappointment emerges on the aspects concerning gender equality where the urgencies are related to female underemployment, particularly in the South, the lack of adequate services to families starting from kindergartens and especially the absence of definitive measures on equal pay that are consistent with constitutional rights.

 

Only 2.3% of the total was allocated to gender equality, while just under 400 million euros were allocated to female entrepreneurship, thus confirming the tendency of the Government to backtrack on this issue, already amply described by the Asvis 2020 Report. The picture taken by the World Economic Forum shows us slipping from 70th place to 76th, out of 145 countries.

 

The most striking thing is the complete dissociation from the reality of a country afflicted by a negative demographic dividend where the low birth rate has an impact on GDP as on the welfare system. A country that once again binds itself to those who pay taxes and keep the system upright, that is, businesses and those individuals towards whom there has been no forward-looking assessment beyond a mere welfarism that a year ago was a measure of urgency and now becomes a boomerang.

 

So, in front of a unique opportunity for the history of our country given by the European funds intended to get out of the recession generated by the pandemic, the response of Italian politics does not contradict what we have suffered in the last 25 years, well represented by pitiless numbers: 16 Governments with 10 Prime Ministers and 617 days of average duration while in France and Spain there have been 5 successive Premiers and in Germany 3 Chancellors!

 

Italian women, families and the third sector pay the hardest price for the political tussle, far from the spirit of service and increasingly linked to an opportunistic view of the use of European funds. Women, families and the third sector are precisely the social levers on which most EU countries and the United States of America have based their economic recovery plans.

Image created by it.freepik.com

About the author, valentina.attanasio@gltfoundation.com

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