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They are not having much luck

Posted by Helen Monday, June 28, 2004

As this blog has already reported, Vaclav Klaus, the Czech President is having to return home early from the Istanbul NATO Summit to deal with the gathering political crisis occasioned by the resignation of the Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla.

Now news comes of another political crisis, this time in Italy. One could, of course, argue that a political crisis in Italy is hardly news, but this one affects the man who has broken all post-World War II records of staying in power, Silvio Berlusconi.

His Forza Italia party suffered severe losses in the European elections on June 10 and has now been defeated in regional elections, losing its power base in Milan, where the governor, Ombretta Coli has been replaced by the left-wing Filippo Penati.

This is a disproportionately heavy blow for Berlusconi as his Fininvest Company is based in Milan and he is also the owner of the local football team, Milan AC. It is, perhaps, the latter and the coincidence of Euro 2004 that prompted one left-wing opponent to talk of "Berlusconi losing at home".

Romano Prodi, though still nominally President of the European Commission, took an active part in the electoral campaign and rejoiced accordingly, seeing in this a hopeful sign for next year's presidential elections.

There have been some calls for the left to unite behind Mr Prodi but this idea is not welcome to all. We shall, no doubt, see a good deal of in-fighting before final candidacies are announced.

In the meantime Berlusconi has announced that he has no intention of resigning before the end of his mandate. But there are hints of a possible reshuffle, to give more cabinet seats to his coalition partners, the Northern League, the National Alliance and the centrist UDC party, whose votes held up well at the polls.