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B-Day countdown (again) PDF Print E-mail
Dec 13, 2010 at 06:36 PM


Late last summer, Italian politicians spent over a month speculating on the outcome of a vote of confidence that Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi had scheduled for September 29th, with opposition parties on both the right and the left accusing him of trying to "buy" votes from MPs in other parties, and erroneously, as it turned out, predicting that his days were numbered.

For the last month, Italian politicians (and Italian newspapers and TV stations) have spent their time (the parliament, quite amazingly, was even closed for the run-up to the vote), speculating on the outcome of a vote of no-confidence that was set for December 14, with opposition parties on both the right and the left accusing Berlusconi of trying to "buy" votes from MPs in other parties (this time, a formal complaint by one party leader has led to a judicial investigation into the matter) and predicting - depending on the day and the hour - that Berlusconi is finished.

Two no-confidence motions were originally signed by 312 MPs and day after day, newspapers have gone to press with lists of those in favour, those opposed, those wavering, those likely to miss the vote because about to have a baby, those jumping ship, those jumping back, those purportedly having taken bribes.....and on and on and on.

I have no idea what will happen tomorrow, although it wouldn't surprise me if Mr. B once again managed to obtain the requisite number of votes to remain in power, for a few weeks at least. But does it matter? Ever since last July when - after months of bickering - Berlusconi was deserted by his former ally, Gianfranco Fini, it has been clear that there is no chance of stability in the near future if the TV and real estate magnate remains at the helm.  And no stability means no effective government, which means it did not come as a surprise to anyone to recently that no more than a dozen new laws have been promulgated in Italy over the course of the last year.

The question now is not whether or not Mr. B. manages to win more than 314 votes tomorrow but whether he will - sooner rather than later - agree to step aside for a compromise candidate capable of heading a non-political government for the foreseeable future, or whether he will push things to what is probably their logical conclusion: new elections in March or April. With no really credible opposition leader to challenge him, Berlusconi, the consummate politician, will win again. And then, once again, he will be unable to govern effectively which is the only thing, boys and girls, which Italy really needs.

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