Thursday, December 13, 2012

Today's Scorecard: Get your Italian Politicians While They Last!

So where are we with this whirling, molten mass that is the Italian political system in the act of re-creation? Let me attempt a summing up--it will all change anyway by tomorrow. Starting on the far right, and moving leftward:

  • Umberto Bossi, formerly of the Northern League (separatist), suggested today he would run for parliament, and would dust off his rifle to prove he's serious.
  • Meanwhile the Lega Nord itself is reluctant to support the discredited Berlusconi but deeply worried that the Europeanist Monti may scarf up most of the center right, leaving it in hopeless opposition. Party leader Roberto Maroni is looking to cobble together some other coalition on the right, while protecting his party's chances in provincial elections in Lombardy, which will happen in February alongside the national election.
  • Silvio Berlusconi, the Cavalier, under multiple indictments and appealing his recent conviction, is showing more moves than a midfielder on his AC Milano team, but is anyone else playing his game? Today he seemed to withdraw his candidacy in favor of Monti, though yesterday he was in the race, declaring that Monti had brought the country to the brink. And tomorrow? Many think his motive is parliamentary immunity from prosecution, others a pathological need for publicity. My personal hunch is senility--just look at his creepy photos. The man's embalmed!
  • Which brings us to Mario Monti, the savior of Italy, hero of the European Union, the second coming of Lohengrin (I'll explain in a later post). Monti spent today in Brussels being praised and endorsed by Angela Merkel, José Manuel Barroso, and other EU luminaries (in total violation of diplomatic etiquette). Not yet a candidate, how can Monti fail to run after being unanimously proclaimed Italy's White knight?
  • Meanwhile Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, corporate head of Ferrari and an amateur politician, is still trying to build the center-right coalition that will be Monti's stalking horse, if President Giorgio Napolitano's ruling stands--he told Monti that as a senator for life he could serve as Premier but couldn't run for a seat in Parliament, the usual route for a party leader.
  • Everyone's dance-card prize, Pier Ferdinando Casini of the centrist Christian Democrats is playing hard to get. Bersani suggested today that he would need to bring Casini into his majority if elected, but won't do so in advance for fear of alienating his left supporters. Monti would match up nicely with Casini, maybe too nicely--the DC brand might lose its distinction. All other coalitions of the center-right pass through him. For now he is playing the hypnotized mongoose to Monti's coiling cobra.
  • Matteo Renzi: affable centrist, only 37, he seems to be taking Romano Prodi's advice, keeping quietly within Bersani's sheepfold, eligible for a ministry if the Democrats win, odds-on inheritor of the party win or lose. When Berlusconi publicly told him "The door's still open," Renzi publicly replied, "You can close it."
  • In firm possession of his Democratic Party's nomination, Pier Luigi Bersani (no-drami Bersani?) is the one major figure who seems to be keeping his head. To counter all the attention on the right, he announced primaries (in 2 weeks!) for parliamentary candidates, another effort to mobilize his base after the surprising success of the premiership primaries (see long article in previous post). Beyond holding steady (he has a commanding 30-35% in the polls), Bersani's real challenge is to articulate policies that differ from Monti's austerity but won't alarm the EU and its financiers, while keeping Vendola and the Old Left on board. A complex geometry: Bersani's orthodox statements to the Wall Street Journal had Vendola up in arms just yesterday.
  • And finally, Nichi Vendola, the bright star of Italy's real left, the communist, Catholic, eco-radical openly gay straight shooter who nurtures his SEL (Left Ecology Freedom) Party with little ethical homilies on his daily blog: Vendola has little choice but to keep his promise of support for Bersani, but as the campaign ratchets up and the pressures, domestic and foreign, mount on Bersani to steer to starboard, Vendola's task of keeping the 'left' in 'center-left' will grow harder. Meanwhile the eco-disaster of the Ilva steel mill, in Vendola's region and a test-case of his ecological fundamentalism, will raise its profile in an election that turns on jobs, growth, and competition.
  • That's it, except for Beppe Grillo, who can't be seated on the left or the right because he wants to blow up the whole hemisphere. That said, he is a sort of left-populist, his Five Stars Movement got a LOT of votes last month in Sicily, and if Berlusconi folds, a pack of angry, disenchanted 'low information' voters may turn yet to this irascible, irresponsible, utterly authoritarian 'non-politician,' who would refuse to govern. Would anyone notice? 


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home