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The Corner

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Italy: It’s a landslide



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Huge, perhaps historic, victory for Berlusconi’s “Popolo della liberta’ ” (which translates a bit awkwardly as “the people of liberty;” maybe it’s better to call it “the freedom folks”). It’s considerably worse than AP lets on. Berlusconi defeated Walter Veltroni’s “Democratic Party” by a full 9 points in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. And since the Italian electoral system gives a bonus to the winning side, the margins are very big and stable: 340 to 241 in the Chamber (with another 36 for a couple of small parties), and 167 to 137 in the Senate (with 5 to three little parties), which was expected to be a photo finish. Eighty percent voted, down about three percent from last time.

The big news is that the Communists are gone, for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Really gone. They didn’t win a single seat in either chamber. A lot of famous faces will vanish from Parliament, and it is even possible, although unlikely, that some of the comrades will be forced to join the working class. The Greens are also gone. In fact, there are only six parties in the new Parliament, suggesting that Italy’s well on the road to a two-party political system instead of the dreadful proportional electoral model that has destroyed virtually every country where it’s been applied. If that happens, a lot of the credit goes to Veltroni, who created a real center-left party and refused to admit the old Left.

Tomorrow’s papers will pretend that this didn’t happen, and warn that Berlusconi’s allies in the Northern League are mercurial and dangerous, and that his majority isn’t as stable as it looks. But it is. And there’s an even more annoying feature to these elections, as seen by the chattering classes: Berlusconi is an outspoken, even passionate admirer of George W. Bush and the United States of America. Reminds one of the elections that brought Sarkozy to the Elysee, doesn’t it? Best to keep that quiet, or somebody might notice that hatred of America doesn’t seem to affect the voters in Italy, France or Germany.

It’s too soon to start talking about the ministers-to-be, but it will all get sorted out very quickly. At least Italy won’t have to suffer with the likes of Massimo D’Alema any more. He’s the former prime minister and recent foreign minister who proudly announced that major part of his time was devoted to protecting Iran from American pressure. He’ll now spend more time on his proletarian yacht, usually based in Croatia…



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