Italy's sexy, new, supposedly efficient," technocratic" government made up of bankers, admirals, professors and experts accidentally named some random professor from Canada to their agricultural committee. That's quite embarrassing for any cabinet, but especially embarrassing for one that comes with the hype that Prime Minister Mario Monti has built and one that's faced with the task of restoring financial credibility to a flailing country. The Guardian reports, "Earlier this week, agriculture expert Francesco Braga, a professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, was surprised, if flattered, to be told from Rome that he had been named junior agriculture minister in the new Italian administration." Surprised as he should be, since Braga has spent nearly 30 years living abroad. The Guardian adds, "Agriculture minister, Mario Catania, declared in irreproachably technocratic fashion that his new deputy would 'bring value added'" and "admitted that he had not actually spoken to the distinguished Italo-Canadian professor, but added: "I know him by reputation." Which all kind of looks foolish in hindsight, since the BBC and other news outlets have been reporting that the government had wanted Rome university professor, Franco Braga (not Francesco), to be its new undersecretary for agriculture. The Guardian explains:
All of which must have been pretty confusing for Altero Matteoli, the infrastructure minister in Italy's last government, who had warmly recommended for a post in the new government one Franco Braga, also a professor, but of construction engineering at Rome's Sapienza University. "To tell the truth," Matteoli was quoted as saying in the daily Corriere della Sera: "I recommended him for infrastructure, but they put him in agriculture."
Neither the Canadian agricultural expert Braga or the infrastructure specialist/Rome-based Braga were sworn in yesterday while the latter, as The Guardian and Italian paper Corriere Della Sera report, is a bit peeved with the whole situation. And neither of the Bragas know what's going to happen next. The one thing we know for certain is that the people involved in this mess are the same people holding the keys to possibly preventing world economic collapse, and that's not very comforting.