Berlusconi Defeated

by STEVE SHORE

Italy has survived a brutal campaign with a new government of the left. In a turnout that Americans can only dream of, almost 84 percent of the electorate, for the first time including Italians living abroad throughout the world, has demonstrated what happens in a democracy. Split nearly — but not quite — equally, the popular vote exceeding even the 2001 national elections, the center-left coalition headed by Romano Prodi has displaced the ruling right wing coalition of Silvio Berlusconi by a slim 0.1% of the vote. The premier immediately went on the attack, stating "The result must change"–notice carefully the language, not "might"–and accused the left of massive election fraud. But Italy isn’t Florida and there are no hanging chads.

The Interior Ministry a few days ago retracted the initial, mistaken, report of many tens of thousands of improper and disputed ballots, now saying there are, at most, about 6000 (about 2500 in the Camera and 3500 in the Senate votes–these were separate votes and tallies) and these are only to be certified by the magistrates and the matter will be closed. It is not even within 10% of the number needed to change the balance of power. It would seem the election is secure and the Unione has won.

But Berlusconi, ever the "Master of the Big Lie," continues to play his cards in the only safe place, the media he owns, and even his disgraced and dismissed former Northern League minister Calderoni has reiterated the assertion that upwards of 40 thousand votes are in dispute, a drop in the bucket to the millions according to the premier, and they have demanded a recount. Usually, during the election, Berlusconi’s ofhand remarks have been simply foolish, but he isn’t funny this time: Berlusconi has openly threatened to bring down the government, to make it impossible for anything to move in a divided Senate (even if the left now has the clear majority in the Chamber of Deputies, in the Camera it is three votes short of an absolute majority in the Senate and both houses must approve any proposal before it becomes law).

This is a direct threat, the declaration not only of a stalemate but an open war against the half of the country that sent him packing. His party, Forza Italia, gained only 23.7% of the vote compared to the Unione coalition that achieved a vote of 31.3%. The two communist parties combined won more than the Christian Democrats–oops, the UDC–who are the survivors of the former dominant party of Italian politics before being toppled by the political scandals of the 1980s; the only reason Berlusconi is even close in the Senate is the 13 seats won by the Europhobic racist crazies from the Northern League. The margin of victory, in a genuinely sweet irony, came from the foreign vote–the very group included for the first time in the Senate elections by the action of this government.

One has to ask why? Is this just the simple incapacity of a defeated politician to accept that his party has lost? Hardly. This isn’t a war of ideology, not from a government that’s opened its arms to the worst elements of Italian political life and that has accepted the cries of "Duce" from the crowd.

Once out of power Berlusconi will be vulnerable, politically and legally, to everything from which his immunity as President of the Council has protected him.

I can only imagine that the magistrates, who as a professional group have been continually insulted and frustrated, and who have sustained repeated attempts to restrict their independence and impartiality by the (formerly) majority government, want to come down on this politico like a ton of bricks.

Even with all the bravado — not calling Prodi to congratulate him on his victory and behaving like a barbarian in the press and in rallies — Berlusconi cannot change the outcome but can threaten its stability and success. Remember, this is the same politician who claimed to have done more for Italy than anyone since Napoleon, who compared himself to Jesus, and who promised to resign from politics and disappear if not elected.

All that is in the past. It’s enough to satisfy his aims to threaten continued instability of the country. A democracy is a terrible thing to waste!

STEVE SHORE is an American physicist at a research institute in Italy.







 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece