FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinness: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
David Welsh
Bay Area Rallies Against Trump’s Muslim Ban II
March 22, 2017
Paul Street
Russiagate and the Democratic Party are for Chumps
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer, the Progressive Caucus and the Cuban Revolution
Gavin Lewis
McCarthyite Anti-Semitism Smears and Racism at the Guardian/Observer
Kathy Kelly
Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen
Kim C. Domenico
Ending Our Secret Alliance with Victimhood: Toward an Adult Politics
L. Ali Khan
Profiling Islamophobes
Calvin Priest
May Day: Seattle Educators Moving Closer to Strike
David Swanson
Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump
Dave Lindorff
There Won’t Be Another Jimmy Breslin
Jonathan Latham
The Meaning of Life
Robert Fisk
Martin McGuinness: From “Super-Terrorist” to Super Statesman
Steve Horn
Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council
Binoy Kampmark
Grief, Loss and Losing a Father
Jim Tull
Will the Poor Always Be With Us?
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s “March Massacre” Budget
Joe Emersberger
Rafael Correa and the Future of Ecuador: a Response to James McEnteer
March 21, 2017
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
On Being the “Right Kind of Brown”
Kenneth Surin
God, Guns, Gays, Gummint: the Career of Rep. Bad Bob Goodlatte
David Rosen
Popular Insurgencies: Reshaping the Political Landscape
Ryan LaMothe
The Totalitarian Strain in American Democracy
Eric Sommer
The House Intelligence Committee: Evidence Not Required
Mike Hastie
My Lai Massacre, 49 Years Later
James McEnteer
An Era Ends in Ecuador: Forward or Back?
Evan Jones
Beyond the Pale
Stansfield Smith
First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump
Dulce Morales
A Movement for ‘Sanctuary Campuses’ Takes Shape
Pepe Escobar
Could Great Wall of Iron become New Silk Roadblock?
Olivia Alperstein
Trump Could Start a Nuclear War, Right Now
David Macaray
Norwegians Are the Happiest People on Earth
March 20, 2017
Michael Schwalbe
Tears of Solidarity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit, Nationalism and the Damage Done
Peter Stone Brown
Chuck Berry: the First Poet of Rock and Roll
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail