Saturday, July 24, 2004

Berlusconi has a problem

Several problems, in fact. His coalition allies the Northern League and the Christian Democrats are squabbling over the proposed federalist reform. Political scientists like Giovanni Sartori are witing his political obituary and, on top of everything, he is being pushed into appointing a nominee of the Christian Democrats for the Commission post that is being vacated by Mario Monti.

Rocco Buttiglione, the one proposed by Marco Follini, CD leader, is at present Minister for European Affairs. It is not yet clear what position the Italians will want for Signor Buttiglione, should he become the Commissioner. He is unlikely to follow Signor Monti as the powerful Competition Commissioner, that portfolio possibly ending up with Britain or Germany, though France has apparently expressed an interest in it.

Well, if Germany gets the Economic super-Kommissariat, why not let the French, who are more than any other member state guilty of subsidizing weak and failing companies, have competition? Really, this is beginning to resemble that old joke about the EU, in which the British are put in charge of transport,  the Italians are given defence and so on.

Meanwhile, Romano Prodi, the only man ever to beat Berlusconi in a general election(in 1996) has announced that he will start campaigning in Italy the day after his term as President of Commission expires. This surprised a number of interested spectators, who were all under the impression that Prodi started campaigning months ago.

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