Well, it’s official. The 61st Italian government since World War II has finally collapsed. Prime Minister Romano Prodi lost a vote of confidence on Thursday, and former PM Silvio Berlusconi is calling for a new election. Italy’s President, Giorgio Napolitano, has said he won’t call new elections until the election law is reformed. The current law (which I don’t understand, so don’t ask) was put into place by Berlusconi back before the last elections in 2006, and it apparently makes it nigh to impossible to create and keep a solid majority in the Senate. People on all sides of politics in Italy seem to agree that change is needed in the law, and some reformers are even encouraging the Italian people to boycott a vote if one is held before the law is changed.
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One report I read said that while Berlusconi is loudly calling for new elections ASAP, many feel that he’s the only one who wants a vote to be held now, because he’s convinced he could win. Most of the rest of his center-right coalition, however, would prefer to have someone else at the helm. Even with as little as I know about Italian politics, Berlusconi seems too slick – and toxic – to be good for Italy. He’s very good for himself, yes – but one man does not a country make.
The whole thing is extraordinarily complicated, and I don’t even pretend to understand the half of it. It amazes me that such instability doesn’t bring the country to a grinding halt, but it almost seems like Italians have come to expect this. Life goes on as usual. And with a history of 61 governments (the vast majority of which haven’t made it to their full terms) since the end of the second world war, I suppose this is life as usual. The question I’m left with is this – is that sad, or is that part of the charm of Italy? Or is it both?
So, if anyone out there can explain this to me, how Italians deal with this kind of thing year after year, I’d love to know…
Photo by: Partito Democratico Ciampino