Silvio Berlusconi has prevailed in Italy’s recent election and what to make of his victory and what it says about Italians is up for debate.
With his return to power, Italian power has once again shifted to the centre-right. Berlusconi’s Conservatives found essential support from parties that include anti-immigrant and neo-fascist parties and the northern-centric Lega Nord (Northern League) led by Umberto Bossi.
The Lega Nord is an interesting bedfellow for Berlusconi. It was this same party which sunk him two years ago, ending his five year reign from 2001-2006, when they withdrew their support from their coalition, triggering an election.
Lega Nord advocates for concessions and preferred treatment for Italy’s northern region, since it is the industrial power base of the nation. As well, Lega Nord feeds into some northern political mentality of superiority over the rest of the Italy. And now, having received just over six per cent of the vote, they may be looking for favours from Berlusconi, state some pundits.
What does Berlusconi’s varied coalition really say about Italians and the political landscape of the boot-shaped nation? Or, is there nothing really to be said other than his victory mirrors other centre-right victories in European nations such Britain, France and Germany?
Has socialism and the left truly lost a foothold in Italian political life? Has it lost it across leading European nations? Consider that Italy’s socialist, communist and green parties all lost status in this past election. Italy’s main opposition party, the Democratic Party led by Rome’s former mayor Walter Veltroni, represents a coalescing of some other fractured centre-left leaning parties.
Some Italian critics and pundits are lamenting this apparent shift in Italian politics to two large, opposing parties. Some fear this shift will lead to American-style politics of Republican versus Democratic. Others say it could not be any worse than the fractured and inconsistent governments that have led the nation since World War Two- by the way, this election determined Italy’s 62nd government since 1945.
Cleaning up Naples garbage crisis and saving Alitalia, Italy’s national air carrier, are two of Berlusconi’s top priorities. Hopefully seeing through some political reforms to strengthen Italy’s political process and reinvigorating the nation’s lagging economy will be tackled by the billionaire media-mogul prime minister. How he approaches any of these issues while having to please his varied political supporters may be the most interesting issue of all.