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Why Podemos Or Syriza Scenarios Won't Happen In Italy

Beppe Grillo, leader of the Italian Five-Star Movement
Beppe Grillo, leader of the Italian Five-Star Movement
Giuseppe Salvaggiulo

TURIN — Italian politicians from very different backgrounds have been trying to capitalize on last week's victory of Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos in regional elections: from centrist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the populist Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, to the banker-turned-cabinet minister Corrado Passera and leftist LGBT activist and governor of the Puglia region Nichi Vendola.

That's quite a list. Stll, even as some international observers ask if Italy is the next country to be swept up by the anti-austerity wave, there is clearly no "Italian Podemos" on the horizon. And what's left is just more bickering.

"The two Matteos (Renzi and Salvini) are pathetic," an outraged Vendola tweeted last week.

An identical dynamic occurred four months ago following the Greek elections: Suddenly, every other Italian politician was buddies with Alexis Tsipras. But the one Italian party truly inspired by Syriza, called The Other Europe, collected only 1.1 million votes at the European elections, barely surpassing the minimum quorum of 4%. By now, it's all but shattered.

Massimo Cacciari, a professor of philosophy and former mayor of Venice, says while whole new ideological alliances are forming elsewhere in Europe, Italy is "still using old categories" in its political formations.

"Inside Podemos, there is everything: Some components of the extreme left like in Syriza, movements similar to our 5-Star Movement (populist and anti-EU), even some elements of a more traditional left party. They group together as different ways to beat a similar crisis."

Grillo factor

So why is such a political renewal possible in Greece and Spain, but not in Italy? Italian journalist Carlo Freccero compares Italy to countries in Eastern Europe. "We have more things in common with Poland than with Spain. How can social disaffection be articulated by Salvini?," he asks referring to the leader of the Northern League, which has historically shown no pity for the underprivileged, particularly in the poorer South of Italy.

Yet, in 2011, while in Madrid the Indignados movement was starting to put down roots that would later blossom into Podemos, Italy was undergoing a different phenomenon. Though deep disappointment with traditional parties was spreading, it was not funneled into a new rebellious but well-organized party. They were absorbed and elaborated, in different ways, by Matteo Renzi and Beppe Grillo, the comic-turned-populist blogger who founded the 5 Stelle movement.

Ugo Mattei, an Italian law professor, says the Podemos model is based on a popular leadership focused on issues that affect people's lives. Ana Colau, Podeomos-backed winner of Barcelona mayoral vote, built her political campaign on the battle against housing evictions. "She is now supported by a vast and modern intelligentsia," explains Mattei. "In Italy, after 2011, the question remained in the hands of a self-referential nomenclature. "

The 5-Star movement reached 25% consensus in earlier elections, but votes were frozen at that ceiling. "On the one hand, Renzi has stolen key issues from his enemies, such as the fight against corruption," explains Paolo Becchi, philosopher and 5-Star sympathizer. "On the other hand, Grillo isolated himself, avoiding any blending with other social movements."

Finally, Syriza benefits from the vital political leadership of 40-year-old Tsipras and Podemos from Pablo Iglesias, 36. In Italy, the mantle of charismatic young leader who challenged the establishment falls squarely on the shoulders of the sitting Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, six months younger than Tsipras.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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