|The technocrat who does not master the art of doublespeak|
Monti said that European leaders needed to defend their freedom to act against parliaments. "If governments allow themselves to be entirely bound to the decisions of their parliament, without protecting their own freedom to act, a break up of Europe would be a more probable outcome than deeper integration."
Since taking office in Italy in November, Monti has led a cabinet of technocrats that has the support of a broad majority in parliament. Nevertheless, when it comes to economic reforms, austerity measures and the euro bailout, Monti often struggles to patch together a majority ahead of key votes. But his comments also appear to be directed at Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel requires parliamentary approval for most of her major bailout policies.
In Berlin, a number of politicians have spoken out against Monti's comments. "The acceptance of the euro and its rescue is strengthened through national parliaments and not weakened," Joachim Poss, deputy floor leader for the center-left Social Democratic Party, told the Rheinische Post newspaper. The politician said it appeared that the image of parliament in Italy had suffered during the "unspeakable Berlusconi years."
Meanwhile, Frank Schäffler, a prominent euro-skeptic with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in Merkel's coalition government, said any possible collapse of the European Union would be a product of too little democracy and rule of law rather than too much. His party colleague, FDP floor leader Rainer Brüderle, said when implementing the necessary reforms, people needed to "take care that Europe retains sufficient democratic legitimization."
'We Need Strengthening, Not Weakening of European Democracy'
Criticism of Monti erupted over the weekend after SPIEGEL pre-released quotes from the interview. Michael Grosse-Brömer a senior official with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union said that while a government's ability to act is of decisive importance, "that doesn't in any way justify an attempt to limit the parliamentary controls that are necessary in a democracy."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, also of the FDP, joined the debate as well, saying that when it comes to European issues, "it is beyond discussion. We need a strengthening, not a weakening of democratic legitimation in Europe."
The sad truth is that the leaders of Europe have practiced exactly what Monti preaches during the last twenty or so years. But they have done it surreptitiously. By openly demanding a smaller role for the parliaments, the technocrat Monti shows that he is not a professional politician, who masters the art of doublespeak.
(image by wikipedia)