Friday, May 02, 2008

Italian post-mortem

With Berlusconi back in and Rome's Mayor an unreconstructed fascist it is only understandable that the Italian left is looking to understand what exactly went wrong. Italian Green Arnold Cassola looks at the parties results; (people should note I'm not endorsing this but throwing it open for debate)

Catastrophic result in Italy

Last week's election in Italy has brought about a revolution in Italian Parliament. Out of over 20 parties represented in parliament in last parliament, only 6 have survived.

The major victim of this result have been the greens and the green-left rainbow coalition. This coalition was a last minute electoral cartel which had to be formed in order to try and beat the 4% threshold. It failed miserably with just over 3% of the votes. As regards migrants in Europe, our list fared a bit better, since we got 4.2% of the vote. I got the most preferences out of the 12 candidates on the list with 24% of the total preferences. The green on the Senate list, Angelo Saracini, was also top of his 4 person Senate list. Meagre satisfaction, since no one got elected.

The end result of this election is that, for the first time since 1946, there is no communist or socialist in the Italian Parliament. It is also the first time since 1987 that there is no green MP in parliament.

Why this result?

1. People in Italy are fed up of the continuous bickering within the 11 party Prodi coalition, in order to gain party visibility. People want stability and cannot understand how coalition
parties can be fighting against each other continuously.

2. The creation of the Democratic Party by Veltroni (putting ex communists and ex Christian Democrats together) gave a new perspective to Italian politics. With the typical arrogance of the big party leader, Veltroni declared he would run on his own in February and that he would not have any coalition with the smaller parties. The next day government collapsed, thanks to the Christian Democrat Clemente Mastella who, already in deep trouble because of alleged corruption, left the government.

3. Berlusconi also decided not to run in coalition and formed in one day a single party (without congress or anything) called Popolo della Liberta', comprising the three major centre right parties: Forza Italia, Alleanza Nazionale and Lega Nord. Both Veltroni and Berlusconi started asking for the "useful vote", and therefore were urging voters people to vote only for their two big parties and not to vote for the small ones. This tactic worked marvellously.

Through his arrogant decision of going all alone, Veltroni achieved three disastrous results: 1. for the greens and left.... since he managed to destroy us; 2. for himself, since he was completely
defeated and lost by 9% to Berlusconi; 3. for the country since Veltroni has given Italy on a golden plate for the next 5 (and I say 10 ) years, with serious consequences for Italy's prestige in Europe (unless Berlucsconi changes his character and way of doing things!).

What about the Greens? In my opinion, people made us pay for being identified with the radical positions of the communists. Italian society today is a moderate one in general, I would say. The people could not understand (rightly so, in my opinion) how a government junior Minister (Paolo Cento) and some green MPs would go in the streets protesting against the government they formed part of! The lesson to be learned, according to me, is that you are either in government or out of it... you cannot have it both ways.

The election campaign itself was a disaster. Already having Bertinotti as leader was a big mistake, since he is clearly identified with old communism. In second place he based his campaign on two points which, I believe, were disastrous: 1. He was always declaring that we are an opposition party. And people cannot understand this: in politics you must fight to win. Then you can also lose. But you can never declare that you are fighting to lose! 2. In second place, he was always saying that we had to have a war of the classes. The same thing Marx was
saying.... but 150 years ago!! The reality in Italy is that today job insecurity and precariousness is no longer belonging to one class (the proletarian one) but it is also distinctive of the university educated middle classes , who find it very difficult to have a safe job.

Bertinotti and the Sinistra Arcobaleno failed to read present Italian reality and also failed to address hot issues, such as security in towns and cities and migration. The real winner of the elections were Bossi's Lega Nord who, instead, insisted mainly on the isuues of security, migration and job security, thus doubling their votes. Indeed a good percentage of green-left votes migrated directly to the Lega Nord. Which shows that today people are no longer tied to fixed ideologies.

The future: on 10 and 11 May the Italian Greens will have their post electoral Council. In my opinion, this has to be the first real occasion for the refounding of the Italian Greens, who have to detach themselves from the radical left and find their own specific identity in politics.

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