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End of a love story February 16, 2008

Posted 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.



1. Amara - February 17, 2008

Hi Tommaso, do you think you will see/read objective media reports in this time up to the election?

2. dorigo - February 17, 2008

Me, no. You, yes – you’ll read mine 😉

Seriously though, I think it is tough. It is much better to rely to well-known commentators, whose bias is known from past history. It is just like making a measurement with a pedestal to be subtracted. You take the raw data, subtract the bias, and get what you need.


3. Tony Smith - February 17, 2008

Would you say that Veltroni in Italy is analagous to Obama in the USA?

I saw that Veltroni’s party was formed mostly from a merger of Democraci di Sinistra and Margherita,
that the symbol of Margherita was a daisy with 16 petals.

Since the number of petals on a daisy petals are usually a Fibonacci number (often 34, 55, 89, etc)
and since 16 is not a Fibonacci number
16 is the number of vertices on a diagram used by Ramon Llull to describe Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and a lot of other stuff,
I wonder:
Are Margherita’s 16 daisy petals due to Llullian influence ?

Tony Smith

PS – While I am speculating, I might as well also ask:
Was Margherita named after Margherita Sarfatti (a mistress of Mussolini)

4. dorigo - February 17, 2008

Wow Tony, you sure are a master speculator 🙂

The democratic party contains indeed the Margherita, which is a party more looking at the center than at the left. Veltroni is indeed perceived as “new” as Obama could, but I see little similarity between the two.

As for the 16 petals in the margherita, I have no idea where their number comes from, but you might well have guessed it right.


5. db - February 17, 2008

I am always intrigued by how worked up people get about elections in countries such as Italy and the US. In my opinion, it will make very little difference to the ordinary citizen who gets in, maybe even no measurable difference. So it is really a kind of spectator, or blood sport. A form of entertainment, like reality television.
Politics in both countries is governed by cronyism and corruption serving vested interests, and the fuss and hype that surrounds such elections is designed to fool the electorate into believing that this time, change is for real.
Usually about sixty percent vote, implying that the rest are fed up with being taken for fools.
Mind you, I have no radical suggestions to offer for a better system – although maybe Italy should try a more decentralised government along the style of Switzerland. In my very limited experience (I spent some years working in Milano), I gained the impression that many Italians tend to identify more with their native province or city than with their native country (i.e an Italian from Venezia tends to be a Venetian first and an Italian second. I have even met Italians who claim to put the European Union in second place and Italy third!). A crude generalisation of course, but there are obvious historical explanations for this. While this tension between state and federal government also exists in the US, most Americans I know would not put their home state ahead of their country.
Anyway I wish you and the rest of the audience in the virtual Collisseum an enjoyable entertainment!

6. Massimiliano - February 17, 2008

Come on, there’s never a story ending in politics… expecially in italy…


7. Amara - February 18, 2008

Hi DB: The lack of nationalistic feelings in Italy is interesting and attractive to me. Same situation exists in Spain and Germany. I made a comments about that some months ago here:

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