April 16, 2008

Italian elections: Viva Veltrusconi!

Top political analysts will soon tell us what the numbers of Berlusconi’s huge victory in Italy’s general elections exactly (“scientifically”) mean. But I think that no one who has any ounce of common sense would ever ask them why he won.

Well, I can’t guess what The Economist’s editors would actually ask themselves and/or Italians—but the second choice appears highly unlikely—, because I’m not that imaginative (alas! nobody is perfect).

Perhaps it would make more sense to just ask how could it ever have been possible to expect a different result. Have you ever heard, for instance, of Naples garbage crisis (thousands of tonnes on the streets …)? Isn’t Naples an Italian city? And guess who have been ruling Naples and its beautiful region since a decade and more, and who has been leading the country so successfully since May 2006.

Furthermore, try to establish whether there is a link between the story of Clementina Forleo—a brave magistrate who is being massacred by “the caste” because of her charges against very influential members of the Democratic Party—and the fact that the Center-Left coalition includes the Italy of Values party, led by Antonio Di Pietro, that is the former magistrate who spear-headed in Milan the so-called Clean Hands anticorruption drive launched in 1992 that brought down Italy's old regime.

Add to this the heavy tax burden and the public safety issue. But those are only a small selection of issues, though very representative of the country’s mood. Italians must have realized that Italy needs more effectiveness and “Lombard pragmatism” and less “Roman wishful thinking” (“yes we can” in a tomato sauce …). And perhaps Berlusconi, in turn, must have realized what was wrong with his country when he announced on Tuesday his future government's first task: clearing piles of rubbish from the streets of Naples. “I imagine I'll spend at least three days a week in Naples, at least until the refuse problem has been resolved,” he said in an interview, adding that the first cabinet meeting of his government will be held in Naples and that “the months and years ahead will be difficult.”

“For Berlusconi it's a double success,” wrote Corriere della Sera columnist Massimo Franco. “Not only will he be returning to the prime minister's office, but the novelty is that the mandate comes after an election campaign in which he did not promise miracles or hint at painless solutions for the economy.”

Nevertheless I am bound to say that I think Veltrroni is the best of his bunch. He has been trying to provide Italy with a modern and responsible left and a more effective and stable political system. His announcement that the PD would have run on its own, without the squabbling Catholic-to-communist coalition allies that brought Prodi down, was like a new beginning, a big break from the choice of bickering coalitions Italians are usually faced with. As a result, in turn, Silvio Berlusconi had called on centre-right parties to run under the slogan “People of Liberty”—not only a single banner for the election, but also the embryo of a new single centre-right party that will include the right-wing National Alliance, in a bid to avoid the shaky coalition that weakened his own previous government.

Now Italy has only five parties represented in Parliament, instead of about twenty, and what is more, in my view, no far right and radical left parties. That’s why I personally congratulate … both the winner and the loser: perhaps Italy is becoming a normal country. Viva Veltrusconi!


  1. Thanks for this Rob - interesting perspective and your point on the reduced number of parties in the Italian point was made to me by someone else too. And it is a step in the right direction - of that there is no doubt.

    The big question now is: Will Berlusconi actually do anything for Italy? And with regard to this, I tend to agree with The Economist - it's possible, but unlikely.

    Wait and see time...

    All the best,


  2. Whoops!

    "reduced number of parties in the Italian PARLIAMENT point..."


  3. Hi Alex,

    "Will Berlusconi actually do anything for Italy?"

    It would be tragic and inexcusable, were the Cavaliere to fail in that responsibility ...


  4. Burly seems more intent on bringing Van Nistelrooy and Ronaldinho to AC Milan at the moment. ;<)