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Berlusconi wins the 2008 Italian parliamentary election
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 8.3% 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 League.

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 capable of foul-mouthed comments and could bring down the imminent third Berlusconi government anytime.


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