But add to this a political and economic dimension and perhaps the local particularities are growing. The north-south split in Italy has long been recognized. Robert Putnam, for example, wrote about it in Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, for example. Our driver continued, explaining about the hard working nature of the north and the industry there, yet, "Our taxes are the highest in all of Europe. They all go to Rome, and foof," blowing in his hand he mimicked their disappearance. Politics, he suggested, had failed in their accountability to people like him, the voters. Instead, the various local and regional iterations of the mafia, along with the Vatican, held veto power over the political realm and kept it in a dysfunctional stasis.
This is only one perspective, but it is representative of a larger sentiment that resents the redistribution of progressive tax policies. This engenders support for what The Economist calls "secession of the successful." This thought is applicable from the level of local municipal policies, where the rich (from California to Brazil and elsewhere) choose to provide their own services through private contract, whether in the form of schools or gated communities with security, to countries (e.g. the feelings of this northern Italian), to international unions like the E.U. where Germans bemoan the redistribution of their structural funds to profligate southern European states. Where unions are perpetually two speed, I do not see how this centrifugal force can be counteracted. Even so, respected academics addressing, for example, the imperative for the EU to accept the immigrants coming from the North African disaster, insist that Europe will have to figure out how to make the best of the situation and accept these unskilled refugees, while completely ignoring the existing centrifugal forces that reside within the union. The confluence of these issues with upcoming domestic elections in Europe may prove explosive.