End of a love story February 16, 2008Posted by dorigo in news, politics.
For fourteen years Silvio Berlusconi and Pierferdinando Casini, respectively the leader of Forza Italia and the leader of “UDC” (the christian union of centrists) were allies in the “Polo delle Libertà”, a center-right coalition which included the ex-fascist Fini and the separationist Bossi. They governed Italy together for seven years, and when they didn’t they joined their forces to oppose the center-left together. Not a glitch, no arguments – journalists had a hard time finding anything of the kind to report.
All that is over now. Italians will vote on April 13th, when they will have to choose a new government after Prodi’s coalition was defeated in the Senate by the defection of Clemente Mastella, indicted for bribery and other frauds. And today, after a few days of contradictory news, the formal announcement: UDC will run alone, with the indication of Casini as candidate for premiership. A blow to Berlusconi, who can only lose these elections, after two years of center-left government which many italians perceived as a failure. Polls credit the right with a 7.5% lead over the democratic party and the left – but these two months will be very interesting from a political point of view.
Why did Casini decided to go alone ? His party is credited with 5-6% of the votes – not much, objectively. But I have a pretty good idea of why he did so. Had Casini’s UDC joined forces with Berlusconi, the center-right coalition would have won hands down: a large margin of seats in the parliament, which would have allowed Berlusconi to ignore his allies and decide everything by himself. Casini much prefers a weaker Berlusconi, and the added visibility of UDC being instrumental in keeping the future government going. A cold-blooded political calculus. I am happy to see it happening, however: Veltroni, the leader of the newborn Democratic Party, can still hope for a successful comeback in the next two months.