Tuesday, February 26, 2013


If ever a country needed a morning-after pill, it was Italy this morning. As Italians went to bed last night - those who did bother to turn in, that is - there was no clear general election result and things weren't any better when they woke up this morning.  As I write, the number of seats allotted to each group in both parliamentary chambers is still changing and this is everybody's nightmare scenario here; an outcome so close that no one will be capable of governing, or at least, not for long.

You can see the results for yourself on the Ministero dell'Interno site and at the moment the centre-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani has 340 seats in the Camera dei Deputati or lower chamber, Beppe Grillo's anti-corruption M5S [Five-Star Movement] has 108, Mr Berlusconi's centre-right coalition has 124 seats and Mario Monti's Scelta Civica coalition just 45 seats.  This makes Beppe Grillo's party - but not group because it is not part of one - the most popular in Italy.  In the Senate, the upper chamber, where seats are allocated according to regional voting, Mr Berlusconi's coalition has 116 seats, Mr Bersani's 113, Mr Grillo's party 54 and Mr Monti's group 18.  [I repeat - the situation is constantly changing and both the ANSA news agency and Corriere della Sera are now giving the figures as 119 for Mr Bersani and 117 for Mr Berlusconi in the Senate.]

In the Senate elections, Sicily went with the Berlusconi coalition, with Beppe Grillo's party coming a close second and Mr Bersani's coalition third.  In the Camera, however, Sicily favoured the Grillo Movement, with  the Berlusconi coalition coming second and the Bersani group third [with almost 50% less votes than the Berlusconi group]. The difference in this region's results for the two chambers may be explained by the fact that you have to be over 25 years of age to vote for the Senate.

In this election young people have had their say and what they have said is that they are fed up with corruption and do not want more of the same. They want jobs and hope and in my opinion it is the lack of hope offered by the undoubtedly sincere Mr Monti that has lost him the vote. You cannot tell people who were not even old enough to vote when the crisis began that, because of a situation which could not possibly have been their fault, they have to accept ever-increasing austerity measures with no end in sight and no dream to follow.  

As for Mr Berlusconi, as usual it is difficult to find anyone who will admit to having voted for him and some people will tell you that they are voting not for him, but for his coalition [which is technically true]. "I wouldn't vote for him but as a celebrity he's fantastic", remarked a friend of mine after one of Mr Berlusconi's recent  television interviews.  "That's just the trouble", I replied. "He's not a celebrity but your former Prime Minister" ["and", I might have added had the conversation taken place tonight, "possibly a future one."] I'm willing to bet that this friend did vote for Mr Berlusconi! Why?  Because "everybody's Silvio" represents Italians as some would like to see themselves, because they admire his business audacity and because, many would say, "Who else is there?"

"Grillo", we might answer. The Left's criticisms of Mr Grillo have been levelled at the fact that he and his party members do not have governmental experience and certainly, this makes many Italians doubt his ability to really carry through.  But who, among those elected previously, has done so?  Mr Grillo is so suspicious of Italy's political establishment and institutions that at one point on Sunday he was urging voters to "lick their pencils" in order to make it harder for an unscrupulous vote-counter to erase their mark.  If I might venture a personal opinion here I would like to tell Beppe that, much as I have always admired him, his scant attention to hygiene in this instance would not give me confidence in a member of his party as Minister of Health. But I always was a fussy soul and anyway, do not have the right to vote in Italian national elections [only local and EU ones].

As the night wears on, desperate attempts are being made to form a coalition capable of governing but I am not hopeful: this is a country in which getting to the point is not regarded as a virtue and anyone asking a question at a public meeting or conference embeds it in the middle of so much flowery rhetoric that often the addressee has no idea what is being asked; writers do not use paragraphs, a contract is treated much like a used bus ticket and an appointment is a vague arrangement which probably means, "I'll call you if I remember to think about it."  What we should be wondering at, then, is not that the political system doesn't work but that anything, ever, works at all. When it does, it works beautifully and stuns the rest of the world and I wish this could be the case with this election result.

As I close my post, there is still no clear winner but I fear that there is a clear loser; its name is Italy.


Sean Jeating said...

Best summing-up I read, so far, and I read quite some.

Thus, Lady Limoncello, you may take this as a com(pli)ment, and if you don't: it's still one.
[Lousy English I suppose :) ]

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hello, Sean. Excellent English and I am happy to take it as a very fine compliment. Thank you. x

Rosaria Williams said...

Ah, Italy!!!

jams o donnell said...

Ach it looks like a mess doesn't it

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Exactly, Rosaria. A real mess, jams.

James Higham said...

Saw the headline and rushed in, Welshcakes, wondering what you'd been up to. :)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Would my life were so exciting, James.

Liz Hinds said...

It's hard to believe anyone would vote for Berlusconi after all his bad press. Or maybe we only hear the derogatory stuff over here!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Liz. Incredible but they did!

Lee said...

I can't follow Italian politics...it always seems so confusing to me.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Lee. I think many Italians would agree with you!


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