December 15, 2010

Not The Worst Nightmare

So yesterday Berlusconi narrowly won a confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament—his government received only three votes more than its opponents—soon after rather easily winning the vote in the Senate. To me (and many others) it was no great surprise, though. Of course, it’s true that there was much uncertainty about the outcome of the vote in the Chamber of Deputies, unlike that in the Senate: everybody knew it would be a photo-finish. But in the end common sense prevailed, 314-311.

The no-confidence motion was put forward by opponents who argued that Berlusconi’s scandal-ridden private life, his alleged attempts to head off investigations into his business dealings and the lackluster state of the economy made his continued tenure as prime minister impossible. And all of this is true to a degree, but this is only half of the truth, one of the two sides of the coin, the other of which is the nature itself of the opposition, made up of a jumble of left-wing, centrist and center-right political parties, without a clear leader and with little common ground other than the will to get rid of Berlusconi—enough to seriously undermine the government’s ability to work effectively, too little to present themselves as a reliable, alternative government. And that’s perhaps the real trouble with Italy, or, depending on your point of view, the greatest luck: with such an opposition, Berlusconi’s only opponents are the formidable problems of the country. But the ideal would be a decent government and a decent opposition—and, if I don’t expect too much, less severe problems for the country …

Be it as it may, the worst was avoided: a crisis without any foreseeable solutions. And now? Speaking at the presentation of a book in Rome, soon after winning the vote of confidence, Berlusconi said it was possible he might expand his parliamentary majority. He also said Italy did not need to have elections now but that he was sure his party would win them if they were held. And this is not an unlikely scenario, nor the worst nightmare. Yeah, there’s always something worse, and in life, you need to know how to make do with what you have. After all, aren’t we in the age of Kali Yuga?

1 comment:

  1. One even began to think that it was the end of the Berlusconi era. That the page might even be turned at last. But he seems to be immortal. His satyric chapter is interminable.
    What Italian opposition there is, seems to have invested most of its effort in trying to discredit him, rather than try to come up with something better to offer. But Berlusconi needs no one else's effort in trying to discredit him. He seems to delight in doing this himself. In fact all such efforts from others have only reinforced the reputation he apparently enjoys displaying.

    Perhaps they fell into their own trap. Instead of being above the trivial, and investing in real, alternative politics, assuming they exist, they wasted their time and helped bolster up a priapic myth, much to Silvio's and his fans' amusement.

    But is there another alternative? Social justice is periodically necessary when it's possible. During one of the worst economical crisis in history, it's not easily applicable.