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New Political Excitement In Italy

  • December 9th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

monti-ec.jpgThe Prime Minister, Mario Monti (picture), says he will soon resign; the former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, says he wants to stand for election again, and the opposition, ahead in the polls, is putting forward a new leader, Pier Luigi Bersani.

WEEKEND DECLARATIONS

Italy this weekend saw Silvio Berlusconi, 76, declare he would stand (8.12.12), after earlier getting his party to withhold its vote from the coalition government.

The Prime Minister has responded, saying that he will check with party leaders to confirm he has support for a forthcoming budget, to enact austerity measures and endorse agreements with the European Union over finances; and if that is in place he will go.

Though perhaps he might not go, entirely.

There is enough sentiment that the economist and former monti-time.jpgEuropean Commissioner, as a technocrat in charge, has managed well, so that he might be encouraged to stay on.

He was appointed Prime Minister in November last year, with a brief to set things in order; taking over from the mercurial and much-distracted Mr Berlusconi, wjho stepped down, faced a fresh trial, on fraud charges, was sentenced to four years’ gaol, then lodged an appeal, and then began preparations for a new defence, against sex charges related to the use of his acquaintance in the “bunga-bunga” affair, a prostitute known as “Ruby the Heart-stopper.

TURNING THE TABLES?

A Reuters commentary says Mario Monti, 69, has turned the tables by moving to resign, three months ahead of planned elections:

“It will also increase speculation that he could be eyeing a run as a candidate in the election himself.

“At a conference in France earlier, Monti, widely credited with restoring Italy’s international credibility after the scandal-plagued Berlusconi era, appeared to take aim at Berlusconi, warning against ‘populism’.

“He said Italy should not go back to where it was when he took over for Berlusconi a year ago …”

Yet, “populism” gives then Berlusconi forces a chance to get over the obstacle, as they would see it, of being disgraced, and compete credibly at the polls.

As said before in EUAustralia (See “BerlusconI facing gaol, wants a fight”, 29.10.12), the Berlusconi media machine would have few concerns about getting up a campaign against the impacts of stiff economic policies, which their own government had actually put in place.

berlusconi-two-2001-ecthumbnail13.jpg“Berlusconi the media-man (picture)  may have looked out the window to see huge crowds in weekend protests in Italy, feeling the impacts of the squeeze on jobs and incomes.

CONTRADICTIONS

“The protests were being called ‘No-Monti Day’ (27.10.12); turning on Monti might generate votes.

“Contradictions in the argument notwithstanding; trying to catch a wave on that wave of sentiment would not be beyond the imagination of the man who marketed Forza Italia, (the Berlusconi political movement of the 1990s, based around the idea of barracking for a Football team).”

The right-wing strategy this time would be to try to grab an upset victory by polling well, and forming a coalition with the regional sister party, the Northern League.

OPPOSITION GETS READY

bersani_-_festa_nazionale_sl.jpgThe opposition Democratic Party, centre-left, has recently elected as its leader, Pier Luigi Bersani, 61 (picture), a former teacher and long-time professional politician, who will have the advantage of non-incumbency in difficult economic times.

His party, equally, while being highly critical of the imposts of austerity on plain folks, has had to agree to agree to many of the measures in the government plan.

No major political grouping really can wash its hands of responsibility for that program, without finding very elusive, compelling alternatives.

As well, there is bound to be be a certain amount of “kicking the communist can” in the election campaign, as many in Mr Bersani’s alliance, like himself, were in past years, members of the large Italian Euro-communist movement.

FOOTNOTE FROM AFRICA: In the global gallery of irregular political characters, by coincidence on the weekend, one Robert Mugabwe, enduring President of Zimbabwe, was nominated by his party to contest elections due next year. Not quite presenting the charisma of an African Berlusconi, he has as a luminary of the Shona tribal majority, nevertheless shown a similar do-or-die aptitude for clinging to power — despite serious impoverishment of the country and near-collapse of the state apparatus.

Reference

AFP, Paris, “PM Mario Monti to stand down as Berlusconi announces he’ll run again”, 9.12.12.

Steve Scherer, “Italy PM Monti says he will resign when budget passed”, Reuters, London, 8.12.12. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/12/08/uk-italy-berlusconi-idUKBRE8B708C20121208, (9.12.12).

Pictures

Aiesec.org, wikipedia

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