Berlusconi wins the 2008 Italian
Article added in Naples, Italy, on April 16, 2008 at 10:30 local time
After only two years on the hard benches of the
opposition, Italy's richest man, Silvio Berlusconi, is back in power.
For the third time, he will serve as prime minister, with conflicts of
interest in almost all areas of government.
Silvio Berlusconi wins the 2008 Italian parliamentary election. His
Center-Right coalition swept both the House and the Senate to govern
“Europe's sickest man” - Germany and France are currently the other sick men.
After the close and contested
2006 election, many Italians feared another dead heat in 2008.
Instead, the voters gave Berlusconi's Center-Right coalition a clear
mandate, many less because of a deep conviction in his abilities, but out of
desperation with the results of Prodi's second try to govern, which ended
again at half time.
On Sunday and Monday, April 13 and 14, 2008 some 80.5% of the 50 million
Italian voters went to the polls. In the House (Camera), they gave
Berlusconi's Popolo della Libertà party 37.39% and 272 of the 630 seats in
the lower house. His allies, the Right-wing populists of the Lega Nord won
and 60 seats, the Movemento per l'Autonomia per il Sud 1.13% and 8 seats. In
total, Berlusconi's won 46.81% and 340 in the Camera.
In the Senate, Berlusconi's party Il Popolo della Libertà won 38.17% and 141
of the Upper House's 315 seats. The Lega Nord won 8.06% and 25 seats, the
Movimento per l'Autonomia all. per il Sud 1.08% and 2 seats. In total,
Berlusconi's electoral coaltion controls at least 168 seats in the Senato.
In addition, several senators for life - appointed by the Italian presidents
- may vote for Berlusconi's government too.
The Italian Left has suffered a crushing defeat. In the House (Camera), the
newly founded Partito Democratico (PD) of the opposition leader Walter
Veltroni - a former communist turned Social Democrat - only won 33,7% and
116 seats. His allies, the party Di Pietro - Italia dei Valori won 4.32% and
14 seats. In total, Veltroni's coalition only controls 130 seats in the
Camera. In the Senate, Veltroni's Partito Democratico won 33.7% and 116
seats. His ally, the party Di Pietro Italia dei Valori won 4.32% and
controls 14 seats. In total, Veltroni's coalition only controls 130 of the
315 seats in the Senate, compared with Berlusconi's secure 168 seats.
One of the most important results of the 2008 parliamentary election is the
fact that the Communist Party of Fausto Bertinotto is no longer presented in
parliament. The former ally of the ousted prime minister Romano Prodi,
Fausto Bertinotti, presented himself with the Rainbow Coalition (La Sinistra
l'Arcobaleno), composed of his Rifondazione Communista, another Communist
party as well as two Green parties. In the House, they won 3.08% but no
seats, in the Senate 3.21%, but also no seats.
Furthermore, the former ally of Silvio Berlusconi, the centrist Pier
Ferdinando Casini, ended up in the political desert. His Unione di Centro
won respectable 5.62% and 36 seats in the House and 5.69% and 3 seats in the
Senate. Casini's gamble to present himself alone to become the arbiter
between the Left and the Right still has not paid off. His seats are not
needed since Silvio Berlusconi, the former Fascist Gianfranco Fini (not
everybody in his party is really “Post-Fascist”) and the Right-wing populist
Umberto Bossi don't need him anymore to govern Italy.
Today, it looks as if Silvio Berlusconi will be able to govern again the
full term. His coalition is more stable than the past one's of the Left and
Center-Left parties. Still, some conflicts will be unavoidable. Unlike a
large part of the Left, which has been fully united in the newly founded
Partito Democratico, the new party of Silvio Berlusconi and Gianfranco Fini,
Il Popolo della Libertà, exists more on paper than in reality. The full
fusion of the two political partners has still to take place. Furthermore,
the xenophobe Northern League party of Umberto Bossi, which is
fighting for the autonomy or even independence of Northern Italy (Padania),
is largely incompatible with Fini's former Fascists, which are Italian
nationalists and centralists.
The foul-mouthed Umberto Bossi (*1941) is a lose cannon. In 1979, the former
student of medicine (who never finished university) and former sympathizer
of the Italian Communist Party met Bruno Salvadori, the leader of the
Valdotanian Union, who died one year later in a car accident. In the early
1980s, Bossi created the Lega Lombarda and than associated himself with
other autonomy and/or independence seeking movements to form the Northern
His moment of glory came in 1992-94, when the Tangentopoli corruption
scandals swept the ruling Socialists and Christian Democrats away. In 1994,
he became an ally of Silvio Berlusconi, himself allied to the old system of
Bettino Craxi, but who managed to present himself as a new force. Bossi's
first alliance with Berlusconi was short-lived. Still in 1994, Bossi brought
Berlusconi's government down. During Berlusconi's second try as prime
minister, their relation was rocky too, but the head of government was able
to serve the full term. Bossi suffered a severe stroke in 2004 and was
forced to step down from his post of Reform Minister. Still, he is still
foul-mouthed comments and could bring down the imminent third Berlusconi
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