Communism is extinct in Italy April 15, 2008Posted by dorigo in news, politics.
In a country where the word “communist” has been increasingly used as an insult since 1993 – we have to give unshared credit of this to Silvio Berlusconi, who ever since his descent in politics used it as a synonym of “illiberal” or even worse – it might not come as a surprise that the new parliament after yesterday’s elections does not contain one single person who even loosely defines himself as such.
Despite the derogatory nature that the epiteth had taken in the eyes of many in recent years, however, the disappearance of a radical left in Italy’s political arena has generally not been greeted with enthusiasm. Not even members of National Alliance, the party born on the ashes of the filo-fascist MSI, seemed to rejoice yesterday evening on television post-mortem analyses: a rather confusing stand, and a demonstration that italian politics is not easy to understand by outside observers.
A country with no representation of a radical left in the parliament is drifting towards a policy of consensus that cuts corners and steam-rolls over dissent. Italy is not ready for that. It is not by chance that a veteran like Francesco Cossiga -who was prime minister during the most violent period in the history of the italian republic- warns today in an interview to the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera that political terrorism in Italy has its roots in the total lack of a dialogue of the government with the fringes of society, and that the conditions for a rebirth of violence are ripe again.
But what are the reasons of the incredible defaillance of the left, which presented a coalition of forces which had gathered no less than 11% of votes only two years ago, and is now at 3.1%, well below the 4% threshold which allows a party to be represented in the Camera dei Deputati, Italy’s lower chamber ? Analysts will have their hands full in the forthcoming months to understand fluxes and tendencies, but it is clear that this surprising result comes from at least two effects.
The first is the abstaining of many of the supporters of the radical left, disillusioned by the left parties who did not have anything to show for two full years of participation in Prodi’s 2006 government. One can see a signal of this in the increase of abstention by almost 3% in 2008.
The second is the sheer effect of bipolarism: the choice of a premier was recognized from the start to be only between Berlusconi and Veltroni, and many supporters of the radical left, moved by the wish to avoid a victory of Berlusconi, voted for Veltroni’s Democratic Party.
Veltroni cannot be too happy of this: he did well in convincing voters of center-left area, but he lost his elections because he did not convince any of the traditional voters of the center-right coalition. But one cannot really blame him, since his mission was impossible to achieve: Italy wanted a change from Prodi’s government, who tried hard in the past two years to mend the most grievious problem of Italy’s economy -its trillion-dollar debt- but forgot to protect the lower middle-class from price increases and ridiculous salaries.
I have many worries now. One is that INFN, my employer, will be seen as a conquer ground by the new government, who will cut funding and probably restructure the institute, for a better political control. Another is that Italy may be tempted to show an arrogant face again in the international arena, with military intervention in hot spots of this planet. A third is the stop of the attempts at saving the frail economy in the interest of tax cuts. A fourth is the boost to private schooling system, in a country where public schools work very well despite the ridiculous salaries of teachers. I could go on, but I have better think about research today.