Thursday, February 07, 2008

Elections in Italy

The Italian Parliament was dissolved yesterday by President Napolitano and elections will take place on April 13. There is a great deal of regret being expressed about this happening under the existing, unreformed rules that were introduced by the then Prime Minister Berlusconi in 2005.

Critics apparently say that the existing electoral law makes “stable government nearly impossible”. As there have been 61 governments in Italy since the end of World War II, with several being considerably shorter than Prodi’s 20 month one, that statement needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. We can’t help suspecting that the critics are all opponents of Berlusconi, a man who is an adroit if unimaginative politician and who excites strong passions.

Berlusconi will lead the right-wing coalition while Walter Veltroni, the Mayor of Rome, will lead the centre-left one. One wonders what Signor Prodi will do next? First President of the European Council of the European Union? Much more likely than Tony Blair becoming that.

Meanwhile Walter Veltroni is getting carried away and announcing himself to be Italy’s Obama though he does not have the latter’s inspiring good looks.

Given that it is not quite clear yet where America’s Obama is going to be at the end of this year and given that campaigning on “change”, any change, is not necessarily as popular in Italy as it might be in the United States, a country that is in some ways dedicated to change, though in others the most conservative land in the West, Signor Veltroni’s campaign may not be all that successful. At present Berlusconi’s lot are about 10 points ahead in the opinion polls.

Another problem raises its ugly head: what is to become of the Constitutional Reform Lisbon Treaty?

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