Sunday, April 24, 2005

Something old, something new

Now you see him, now you don’t, now you see him again. Silvio Berlusconi resigned last week as Prime Minister after two members of his uneasy coalition, the National Alliance (AN) and the Union of Christian Democrats (UDC), had pulled out of the government, demanding that after the serious losses in regional elections of Apri 3 and 4 a more radical strategy (by which they mean some more hand-outs to the southern parts of the country) be put into place.

But fear not, they are all back. Berlusconi and the other members of the coalition know that if they have a snap election now they will lose. (Actually, they will probably lose next year as well.) So, Our Silvio got his mates together again.

Most of the old gang is back, including Berlusconi’s special chum, Giulio Tremonti as Deputy Prime Minister. He was ousted in a routine coalition feud 10 months ago. His return seems to have annoyed the left-wing opposition.

The AN and UDC have been promised radical reforms and Mario Landolfi of the AN has a new job as communications minister. His first communication was to inform the media that the crisis had been necessary and the coalition was now in good shape to fight the forthcoming election.

Others seem less sanguine. According to Reuter’s

“"We continue to think this was a useless crisis that only ended up wasting a load of time," the Northern League's Roberto Calderoli, who kept his seat as Reforms Minister, said in an interview with newspaper Libero.”

Giuliano Urbani of Forza Italia, who is out, told to the Corriere della Sera:

“I'd had enough of this politicking, the wretched divisions, the cannibalism and foolishness. How could they have opened a crisis, just a few months before the elections and after having governed for four years together? ... What an own goal!”

By all accounts Berlusconi is furious because the engineered crisis that had forced him to resign slightly spoiled his record as the longest serving post-war Italian Prime Minister. His government did not last the full five years. He is, of course, back with the same government more or less but that, apparently does not count for whatever the Italian equivalent of the Guinness Book of Records is.

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