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« on: June 05, 2012, 10:19:01 am »
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With less than one year to go and no other election in between, it might be time to start a thread on the next Italian general election. In a lame attempt to imitate Hashemite Tongue, I'll try to cover the topic as deeply as I can.


A parliamentary election will be held in Italy by April 2013 (it could happen earlier if the current government loses its majority). Both houses of Italy's parliament, the House of Deputies and the Senate, will be up for election. Voting occurs on Sunday and Monday morning.


The background

Summing up everything that happened since the last election would take decades, so I'll try to be short.

The 2008 elections had been won by a right-wing coalition formed by Berlusconi's PdL, Lega Nord and a smaller regionalist party. At 71 years, Silvio Berlusconi formed a government for the third time since he first entered in politics in 1994, a government holding comfortable majorities (around 55%) in both houses.

Troubles for Berlusconi began by mid 2009, when his once best ally, Gianfranco Fini, started distancing from him, regularly taking stances opposed to that of Berlusconi and the government on issues such as justice or immigration. After months of latent conflict with Berlusconi, Fini was eventually kicked out of the party in July 2010. He started his own party, FLI, and brought with him 34 Deputies and 10 Senators from the PdL. The government had lost its majority in the House and there were talks of an imminent downfall. FLI introduced a no-confidence motion which was put to vote on December 14, 2010. However, to the surprise of most, the motion failed by 3 votes, with several opposition MPs switching sides in favor of the government (it is now known that they had been bribed).

From this point on, the government has been considered as being "on life support". Yet, the government held on and managed to find a majority for most of the bills it brought up. Early 2011 saw Berlusconi's popularity steadily decline, as more and more scandals regarding his *cough* lifestyle or his economic activities erupted. The local elections held on May 2011 were a major shock for the right, which lost its historical bastion of Milan in a landslide an several other cities it held. An even bigger blow was dealt when, on 12-13 June, for the first time in 15 years, four abrogative referenda reached the required quorum (50% turnout) to be deemed valid (the referendums repealed the privatization of water distribution, the return to nuclear power and the partial judicial immunity given to the PM, all of which had been passed by the Berlusconi government). It became clear that the government had hit lows in popularity never seen before.

After nearly losing its majority, after suffering major electoral setbacks, the Berlusconi government was struck by the Euro debt crisis. The Italy-Germany spread, still under 200 on early July, was nearing 500 by early November, putting Italy on the verge of default. While the government tried to take a few measures against public debt, its action was constantly parasited by the judicial problems of Berlusconi's entourage, but also by the Lega's growing discontent, as the party was paying the price for its support of Berlusconi. Throughout the fall, Berlusconi was pressured to step down from all sides. On November 8, a bill aimed at reducing debt was passed, with only 308 (of 630) favorable votes, the opposition having abstained massively. By this point, it became clear that the government had lost its majority. Berlusconi officially resigned 4 days later, after the bill officially passed.

While the spread neared 600 and the incumbent government was resolutely calling for snap elections, President Napolitano got both major parties to agree supporting a "technical" government (a government made of non-political figures) led by Economist and former EU Commissioner Mario Monti. By November 16, Monti's government was confirmed by a majority of almost 90% in both houses. Opposition was formed by Lega, which thus broke its decade-lasting alliance with PdL, later joined by Di Pietro's IdV and several extraparliamentary parties. In his first months, Monti passed a first austerity package (first as a decree which was then confirmed by parliament) which significantly raised taxes and massively cut retirement pensions. It then proceeded with "liberalization" measures, aimed to generate competition among economic activities which lacked it, such as taxi drivers or pharmacies. Finally, it passed a labor market reform which reduced guarantees for the employees, particularly regarding the possibility to be reintegrated in the enterprise if a layoff were deemed illegitimate. After a sharp decline until mid-march (falling below 300), the spread is back on the rise since then and now exceeds 400.

Meanwhile, the government's popularity has shown a surprising resiliency. Despite taking measures which have significantly hurt most Italians, and which several observers (both from the right and the left) have deemed unfair, Monti's approvals have remained for a long time around 60%, a level rarely seen in recent years. It has started to decline only in the previous months, and now places in the low 40s. Nowadays, the Italian political debate is centered on what is called "la casta" (the caste), i.e. what is considered as a class of privileged elites (career politicians, leaders of public administrations, university directors, etc) who live at the expense of the population. The privileges of MPs (enormous salaries, for-lifetime pensions, etc.) or the amount of public financing of political parties are particularly hot topics. The old age of politicians and lack of renewal is also a main factor of public frustration. Generally speaking, there is a major distrust about old party bosses and career politicians. This feeling partly explains why Italians are not unhappy to have a nonpartisan government.

Anyways, the major political event of recent days is the surge of Movimento Cinque Stelle, a populist movement (it is not organized enough to be called a party) led by comedian Beppe Grillo. The M5S had been founded in 2009 and had traditionally gathered between 1 and 4% of voters, mostly left-wing protest votes. However, the local elections held in May saw an unexpected surge of M5S vote. In several of the most prominent cities on ballot, M5S candidates, who often are young nobodies coming out of the blue, got double-digit results. The runoff was even more shocking, with M5S winning 4 municipalities throughout Italy, of which, in particular, the city of Parma with its 200,000 inhabitants. While the left held on relatively well, the right (Lega, PdL, and to a lesser extent UDC) utterly collapsed. The most worrying sign was a growing abstention, with only one in two voters showing up on runoffs. Meanwhile, the traditional parties are discussing about hypothetical government reforms, such as changing the election laws, cutting the privileges of political elites, or new anti-corruption measures. But so far it's hard to see anything coming out of this.


The parties

Italy is well-known for having two billion parties, most of whom are irrelevant outfits. Here's a quick summary of the parties which will probably matter next April. Considering the pace at with Italian parties rise, die, merge and split, this list might require several updates between now and Election Day.


The Democratic Party (Partito Democratico, PD) :

It is the main party in the "centrosinistra" (left-wing) coalition and the representative of one of the two political forces which have ruled Italy since 1994.

It was founded in 2007, as a merger of the two major parties of the Italian left: the Democrats of the Left (heir of the historical Italian Communist Party, but by then a classical European social-democratic party) and La Margherita (literally "the daisy", heir of the left-wing branch of Christian Democracy, Italy's natural governing party from 1946 to 1994), as well as a few minor parties. For the details, you can have a look at this chart. The first leader of PD was Walter Veltroni, the former mayor of Rome. A relatively charismatic (by the Italian left's standards) politician, he gave the PD a third-way, modernist and pro-market orientation. Veltroni's PD got 33% of the vote in 2008 elections, coming 4 points behind Berlusconi's PdL (but the left-wing coalition overall came 10 points behind the right). Veltroni didn't step down after the defeat, which obviously wasn't his fault, but he stepped down in early 2009 after the PD lost a regional election in Sardinia. The PD subsequently elected former economy minister Pierluigi Bersani, a stale, boring and useless party tool with the charisma of a wet pizza.

Since then, the PD has desperately tried to come up with a valid reason to vote for them apart from "we are not the right". One of the PD's problem is its utter lack of ideological consistency. Having gathered all existing branches of Italy's traditional left, the PD struggles to find a common ideological line which pleases everybody. Its members range from genuine eurosocialists to conservatives in all but name, only gathered by their common hatred of Berlusconi. Antiberlusconism, however, is getting weaker as a cement of left-wing unity now that Berlusconi is politically dead, and not having an real party line might be the only way to prevent the party from exploding. Another problem is the lack of charisma of its political figures. Most of PD bigwigs are exceptionally stale party bosses, who have been there for decades and have nothing to say to their constituents. People like Bersani, Piero Fassino, Rosy Bindi, Dario Franceschini and, of course, the old boss Massimo d'Alema, fit into this category. There are a few "renewers" like 37-year-old Florence mayor Matteo Renzi, who are a bit more charismatic and try to come up with new ideas, but they strive to find a place inside a party.

Despite all this, the PD has been ahead in every single poll conducted in the last two years at least. The massive disappointment among former right-wing voters since Berlusconi's 2010-2011 decadence probably is enough to explain this. Despite polling ahead, indeed, the PD is polling far below its 2008 result, in the mid 20s. If things go as expected, Bersani should lead the PD ahead of the 2013 election, which is probably an extraordinarily stupid choice. Some figures inside the PD have been pushing for the organization of primaries to choose the candidate-PM, but so far the PD apparatus and Bersani have held on. Anyways, it is probable that the next Italian PM will come from the PD, but the Italian left is pretty good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 05:22:43 pm by Californian Tony »Logged



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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2012, 10:21:23 am »
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The People of Freedom (Il Popolo della Libertà, PdL) :

The dominant party among the "centrodestra" (right-wing) coalition, PdL is the latest incarnation of "political Berlusconism", the right-wing movement gathering around the charismatic figure of Silvio Berlusconi.

It was founded in 2008, at the beginning of the general election campaign, initially as a federation of parties, then evolving into a full party by 2009. The PdL gathered the two biggest parties of the Italian right : Forza Italia, Berlusconi's personalist party, and Alleanza Nazionale (National Alliance), the heir of neofascist MSI led by Gianfranco Fini. It achieved a pretty impressive 37% in 2008, which allowed it to form a government with its traditional ally, Lega Nord, with Berlusconi at its head. With the difficulties experienced by Berlusconi from 2009 on, the PdL has heavily suffered from the growing unpopularity of its historical leader. Following the disaster of the 2011 local elections, Berlusconi tried to give the party some fresh air by announcing he would not run again in 2013, and leaving the lead of the party to Angelino Alfano, his justice minister and hand-picked successor. This, however, wasn't enough to improve the PdL's standing.

When Berlusconi eventually resigned, PdL members, echoed by the right-wing media, have been the most vocal in calling for new elections (which they would most certainly have lost). However, the PdL eventually resigned itself to supporting Monti's government. This situation had particularly tough consequences for PdL, first of all because it resulted in breaking apart their historical alliance with Lega. Completely isolated (in Italy, alliances are often everything), the PdL was left bloodless by the slow agony of Berlusconi's government, and nonetheless had to stay inside the majority, which by these times is a liability in itself. Since then, things have only got worse for PdL. Either they have been forced to support unpopular measures which they had always opposed (like reintroducing the taxation of the primary residence, which had been abolished by Berlusconi in 2008) or they have appeared as the burden which prevented the government from doing the necessary reforms (on issues such as liberalizations, or even more regarding anti-corruption bills). Following last month's local election, they took one of the biggest hits in their history, losing by the first round in a majority of cities like Genova, Parma and Palermo. Nowadays, it has fallen below 20% in most polls (which means it lost half of its 2008 voters), and has fallen at the third place in a recently published poll.

The PdL faces several issues which it absolutely needs to solve if it wants to avoid complete collapse. Similarly to the PD, it seriously lacks the internal consistency which it would need to formulate a coherent policy plank. A lot of ink has been spilled about the fundamental incompatibility between "ex-Forza Italia" and "ex-AN" members. The first were Berlusconi's historical companions since his entry in politics. Most of them are vibrant neoliberals, who loathe taxes and want to cut government intervention in any possible way. Some of them could maybe qualify as "libertarians" in the US. On the other hand, former AN members are, as predictable with people of fascist origins, fairly statist and authoritarian. It is hard to see how these two kinds of politicians have managed to coexist for 4 years, but the hypothesis of a splinter has been evoked since long and it is not impossible it will eventually come to fruition.

The PdL, however, also has serious problems on its own. First of all, it bears the burden of three and half years of a government which ended up as popular as plague. It is still associated with Berlusconi (who hasn't yet understood that the only thing he can do to help is party would be to try to make himself forget) and his uninterrupted succession of scandals of all sorts. Also, it is exceptionally easy for the Monti government, every time the PdL starts getting critical, to remind them that they put the country in this situation in first place (which is at least in part true). The PdL has, finally, an even deeper issue: it has always been a personalist party, a party based on Berlusconi's personal appeal. What does a personalist party become when the "personality" in question is gone? These days, there is the feeling among many that the PdL has lost its raison d'être with Berlusconi's retirement. This doesn't mean, far from that, that Berlusconi's return would be a good thing for the party. But it means that the party needs to seriously reflect at what it wants to be in the future. The party's leader in the upcoming elections should be Alfano, but he already appears as damaged goods and the hypothesis of his retirement isn't to be excluded. If this happens, however, it's hard to see who would replace him.


Union of the Centre (Unione di Centro, UDC) :

The last embodiment of a succession of various centrist parties heir to the right-wing faction of Christian Democracy, UDC was founded two month before the elections in 2008. It merged three parties, of which the only relevant one was Pierferdinando Casini's Union of Christian Democrats and Centre Democrats (which, certainly by coincidence, used the exact same acronym : UDC), which itself had been formed in 2002 as the merger of three right-wing Christian-Democratic parties : CCD, CDU and European Democracy.

Casini had historically been one of the main allies of Berlusconi, having backed his first government in 1994 and then served as president of the House from 2001 to 2006, and it was considered as a key component of the "centrodestra". After the right's defeat in 2006, however, Casini started distancing from Berlusconi and the right. In 2008, the newly-founded UDC decided to run on its own, outside both main coalitions. It did relatively well, with 5.6% and 36 seats in the House (they got only 3 in the Senate, however), but couldn't prevent the right from winning in a landslide. During the Berlusconi years, it was thus relegated to opposition status, but refused to ally with PD and other left-wing forces.

An opportunity opened for the UDC when Fini broke up with PdL and formed FLI, soon becoming an ideal ally for Casini. The two leaders, along with Francesco Rutelli's API (a splitoff from PD), formed in late 2010 the New Pole For Italy, better known as the "Third Pole" (Terzo Polo). The goal was to form a potential government coalition, providing an alternative to both the left and Berlusconi's right. Even though their attempts to topple Berlusconi failed, the Third Pole gained significant strength throughout 2011 and polled at around 15%, likely benefitting from growing disappointment of right-wing voters toward Berlusconi and the PdL-Lega government. The leadership of Third Pole is officially collegial, but Casini is considered as its de-facto leader, since it leads the only party with an established political base.

Since the beginning of Monti's government, Casini and the UDC have been their biggest supporters, always praising the measures they have and attacking the other parties when they criticized the government. Casini had already started calling for a national unity government, as an alternative to Berlusconi's, several months earlier. However, the UDC has not really benefitted from its central position inside the Monti majority, and since the beginning of the year it has lost a couple percentage points. The Third Pole's results in last month's local elections, while not as catastrophic as those of PdL, were significantly disappointing and there are now talks about disbanding the coalition.

With poll numbers around 7%, UDC is still polling fairly well so far, but nobody knows what it could do with such result. Casini's dream has always been to make of Monti their own candidate-PM, so as to take the lead of a grand "national salvation" coalition. But Monti has always claimed his will to retire from politics after the 2013 elections, and considering his recent loss of popularity this might not be a winning strategy anyways.


Italy of Values (Italia dei Valori, IdV) :

Formed in 1998 by former anti-corruption judge Antonio Di Pietro, one of the main figures of the "Mani Pulite" inquiry, IdV is a party whose main purpose is promoting honesty and legality.

In a traditional political spectrum, it would be hard to classify IdV : the party doesn't really claim any ideological belonging. Some opponents have accused the party and its leader of holding a populist and "antipolitical" rhetoric. Anyways, it is possible to describe IdV as a law & order party, meaning a party which emphasizes on the respect of law, the strengthening of judicial bodies and the exemplarity of the political class. While in most countries the term "law & order" is usually associated with right-wing politics, in Italy such a strong stance in favor of legality means, first and foremost, a stance against Berlusconi. Undoubtedly, Di Pietro has been one of his fiercest opponents since Berlusconi entered in politics, vehemently denouncing the multiple corruption scandals he was involved in. For this reason rather than due to a particular ideological affinity, IdV has been part of the left-wing coalition since the early 2000s.

After a poor showing in 2006 (2.3%), IdV took 4.4% in 2008, likely taking many dissatisfied left-wing voters. In the last years, its polling numbers have kept growing, benefitting from the PD's lack of attractiveness and of initiative. During 2011 elections, IdV's candidate in Naples' mayoral election, Luigi De Magistris, eliminated the PD candidate in the first round and subsequently won in a landslide. IdV scored another major win with the success of June 2011's referendums, of which it had been the most vocal proponent - while the PD stayed carefully silent on the issue.

Since then, its momentum has a bit faded away, but it nonetheless still polls pretty high, around 6%. IdV initially took part to the "Monti coalition" and voted for confidence to the new government, but withdrew support soon thereafter, following the first austerity decree. However, it is still considered as part of the left coalition and will most probably run alongside the PD in 2013.


Left Ecology and Freedom (Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà, SEL) :

A radical-left political party founded in 2009 by Nichi Vendola, after his breakup with the paleocommunist PRC. In contrast with Italy's traditional radical left, SEL is closer to the "new left" fashion than to the old paleocommunist brand, adopting a more modern political discourse and opening itself to new thematics such as ecology.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 10:23:10 am by Objectif 289 »Logged



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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2012, 10:31:51 am »
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Vendola had risen to national prominence in 2005, when he surprisingly won the left-wing primary for the regional election in Apulia, and then the election itself. The election of a gay far-leftist in one of Italy's most conservative regions sure appeared as a political earthquake, despite 2005 having been a left-wing waver year in Italy as a whole. Since then, Vendola has frequently distinguished himself by his outstanding eloquence and the lyricism of his speeches, which significantly renewed the otherwise despairingly stale Italian left-of-the-left. Following his re-election in 2010 (in a less favorable year for the left), SEL experienced several months of momentum, with the publication of polls showing Vendola leading in hypothetical left-wing primaries.

In May 2011, SEL was again the center of political spotlights after its candidate, Giuliano Pisapia, went to win left-wing primaries and then defeated the incumbent mayor of Milan, once considered the "stronghold of Berlusconism". Pisapia's victory became a symbol of the death of berlusconism and the rise of a new Italian left, which didn't refrain from taking courageous stances and could nonetheless win elections, even in conservative places. The "Vendola/Pisapia model" prevailed once again this year, with the success of Genova's new SEL mayor Marco Doria.

However, since Monti took over, Vendola has not been much vocal and SEL's momentum seems gone. Since SEL has no seat in parliament (the radical left got wiped out after 2008 elections), the dilemma "support or not support" has never been a problem for them, but it is obvious that a party like SEL cannot support the kind of measures Monti is bringing up. Vendola is vehemently critical of the government's policies but, like IdV, would probably take part in a left-wing coalition. Its polling numbers are similar to those of IdV, sometimes a tad lower, sometimes a tad higher.

As a personal note, I'm in love with Vendola (politically speaking, of course Tongue).


Northern League (Lega Nord, Lega) :

The infamous northern regionalist/separatist party founded by Umberto Bossi in 1989, Lega has, for over two decades, been amidst of a myriad of political controversies of all kinds.

It is hard to talk about an "ideology" for such a party, but its main objective, to say so, is the advancement of the interests of the northern regions (the wealthier ones, which, as such, are often put in contribution when it comes to helping the economically backwards South). Initially a regionalist party aiming to turn Italy into a federal republic, the Lega eventually gave rise to the myth of Padania, an imagined country made of Italy's northernmost regions, which represents everything good with Italy while the rest of Italy is nothing else than a burden. A recurring motto of Lega leaders is secession, even though nobody really believes in it. Lega has also developed a considerable amount of weird cults and rituals, stuff that everybody finds ridiculous except their members. They have also become the main voice in Italy of the brand of anti-immigration populism which prospers in the entire Europe, and its rhetoric about immigrants could easily be called hateful and xenophobic.
 
Summing up the history of Lega would take an entire book, so I will try to keep it as short as possible. Lega attracted a considerable amount of support soon after its foundation, polling over 8% in the early 1990s. In 1994, it formed an alliance with Silvio Berlusconi, branded the "Pole of Freedoms", which went to win that year's elections. However, the coalition lasted only for a few months, and when Lega withdrew support, a "technical" government had to be formed. During subsequent parliamentary elections, Lega, running alone, received its highest result to date with over 10%. This peak, however, marked the beginning of decline for the party, which found itself in a difficult financial situation and disappointing electoral results. By 2000, it was forced to come back in Berlusconi's right-wing coalition, of which it remained a loyal member for more than a decade. Reduced to a shadow of its former self in the 2000s, it saw an unexpected comeback during the 2008 election, getting 8% of the vote and thus proving decisive in ensuring the victory of Berlusconi's coalition.

For nearly 3 years, the Lega experienced what could be described as a "golden age". Taking advantage from its pivotal role in the coalition, it has obtained key ministerial portfolios and considerable policy concessions from Berlusconi. Meanwhile, it reached new electoral heights during the 2010 regionals, when it polled 12% and for the first time got to rule two regions (Piemonte and Veneto). The tide started to turn by 2011, when Berlusoni and his government hit record lows. During the local elections that year, Lega suffered major setbacks which sounded as a warning to the party bosses: the leghist grassroots couldn't stand Berlusconi anymore. The party reacted to this by becoming schizophrenic: they spent months yelling about how awful Berlusconi was, about how he needed to go, about how this government sucked, and... stayed in the coalition. They were basically trying to have a cake and eat it, to be in government without taking the blame for the government's unpopularity. As you can imagine, this didn't work very well. What allowed Lega to take a breath of relief were Berlusconi's downfall and the beginning of Monti's government. This gave them an opportunity to pull out of government without looking like traitors like in 1994, and turn out on doing what they prefer doing : opposing. Initially, Lega held on pretty well, as their status as the "only real opponent" gave them the possibility to exploit popular discontent at Monti's measures.

Until... the sh*tstorm erupted. In early April of this year, it was revealed that Bossi and his closest allies in the party had massively embezzled the public money destined to financing the party for, among other things, "remunerating" Bossi's sons, or buying his son - nicknamed "the Trout" for reasons I'll let you guess - some diplomas in Albania. It was also revealed they had links with Calabrese mafia and with some random trafficking in Tanzania (yes, for real !). In short, the biggest sh*tstorm one could possibly think of. So big that Bossi actually had to resign from its leadership position, and is likely to stay away from spotlights from now on. In order to give you an idea, Bossi was this guy unable to articulate a single syllable, whose entire vocabulary consisted in "secessione", "Padania", and random insults/swear words. So yeah, this guy never resigned after realizing he was a living joke, but he had to resign after this.

So, anyways, Bossi's downfall left room for the long-awaited takeover by his historical rival, Roberto Maroni. Maroni, who is slightly more competent than his fellow party members, had been in veiled (but evident) conflict with Bossi and his clique (the so-called "magic circle") since the final year of Berlusconi's government, since he wanted the Lega to distance with it more markedly, whereas Bossi stayed more loyal to the old right-wing alliance. The election to replace Bossi has not been held yet, but there is little doubt Maroni will win. He has already started to talk about the "new Lega" (despite maintaining façade unity with Bossi) and hopes to restore the party's image as the "party of the people", but it won't be an easy task, to say least. During last month's local elections, the Lega lost all the municipalities it held safe one, Verona (whose mayor, Flavio Tosi, is in bad terms with Bossi).

Nearing 10% not so far ago, Lega is now reduced to roughly 5% in recent polls, and doesn't have an easy way out of mess, now that M5S replaced it as the standard-bearer of anti-establishment populism. The party, like PdL, was centered around Bossi's charismatic figure (someone should, once, try to explain me how the flying hell Bossi can be "charismatic", but anyways, he was), and now that the charismatic figure is so irremediably tarnished, a great part of the base has no reason to "believe" in the myth anymore. Just like PdL, it would be stupid to say Lega is "dead". But it certainly faces tough times and pulling the party out of abyss will require an outstanding leadership.


Five-Star Movement (MoVimento 5 Stelle, M5S) :

Why five-star? Why is the V capitalized? Nobody knows. Anyways, M5S is the fad of the time, and next year it might very well achieve an electoral breakthrough equal only to that of Berlusconi's Forza Italia in 1994. It was founded in 2009 by a successful comedian, Beppe Grillo, following several years of militancy. M5S doesn't consider itself as a "party" in the traditional meaning of the word, as it rejects the idea of a structured and hierarchic organization, and prefers the term "movement".

To further complicate things, its position in the political spectrum is still in great part impossible to determine. M5S, indeed, doesn't have a structured ideology, but is rather based on a set of vague policy proposals. Wikipedia helped me to solve the mystery I exposed at the beginning of this section, telling me that the "five stars" stand for its five main political thematics : public water, transportation, development, connectivity and environment. Don't ask me what the f**k "connectivity" means (I guess it has something to do with TEH INTERNETSZ being sooo awesome). As far as coalitions are concerned, M5S refuses to align with any other political party. Until recently, M5S was ranked at the far-left of political spectrum (further left than SEL, for example). Indeed, it is radically ecologist (of the "degrowth" kind), supports preserved public services and greater social justice (though it is hard to find the precise content of all this).
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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2012, 10:40:39 am »
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All this, however, is a secondary aspect of M5S’s raison d’être. The core of their message, rather, is to say that all politicians suck. If you had to keep only one idea in mind when thinking to M5S, remember this: they are anti-establishment, of the most extremist kind you can imagine. Pointing out the flaws of Italy’s political class has become commonplace among politicians themselves, in order not to appear as completely deluded. M5S, on the other hand, takes it a step further: to them, the whole political class is rotten to its core. Basically, politicians are a class of parasites who live at the taxpayer’s expenses while doing nothing productive, and time has come for the people to get rid of them. All of them. At the end of the day, they think the very system of representative democracy is dead, and seek to replace it with some form of direct democracy functioning through the use of internets and new technologies. There are thus two possible ways to understand the M5S: you could call it either a rabid protest party born out of hatred toward the political class, or a bunch of naive idealists who believe in a completely “different” way to do politics. Whatever you choose, the left-right political spectrum doesn’t really work for this kind of things.

The M5S’s identity is intrinsically tied to its founder, the former comedian Beppe Grillo. Since the movement has no traditional structure, it wouldn’t be entirely correct to call him its leader (especially since he himself indicated he wouldn’t be a candidate to PM in 2013). However you put it, though, it is hard to deny the M5S is his thing. A thing he created out of nowhere and which nobody would even know about if it weren’t for Grillo’s advertisement. It is no wonder if M5S members/candidates are generally called “grillini” (grillists). Anyways, Grillo the political leader is not much different from Grillo the comedian: most of his speeches consist in yelling, imprecating against the political class, throwing insults at random politicians (occasionally, at the “system” as a whole), and prophetizing the imminence of their downfall. He is your classical angry, anti-establishment hero which you like to hear when you are yourself angry at the establishment. His most common catchphrase is “they are all dead” referring to the political class, parties and traditional institutions. Like other anti-establishment hero, there’s nothing he likes more than generating controversy (for example, saying that the government is “worse than mafia” because of taxes).

The early Grillo-backed candidacies (which had started to flourish over a year before the M5S’s official foundation) didn’t meet much success, usually polling between 1% and 4%. According to many, their biggest achievement was to spoil left-wing votes, allowing for the right to win (for example during the 2010 regional election in Piemonte, when the left candidate lost to the right by a 0.4 points margin, with the M5S candidate polling 4%). Things changed, extremely suddenly, in the last few months. The M5S polling numbers started to take off and, since then, the growth has only accelerated. In last month’s locals, M5S mayoral candidates (often totally unknown even at the local level) got excellent results, often taking more than 10% of the votes. In Genova, M5S candidate Paolo Putti won 14% of the vote, beating the PdL candidate and almost qualifying for runoff. But the biggest upset came from Parma, where Federico Pizzarotti, after qualifying for the runoff with 19%, went to defeat his PD opponent in a landslide, taking over 60% of the vote. A party which nobody had ever considered as a serious contender in Italy’s political life suddenly could claim the leadership over a 200 000 inhabitants city (along with 3 smaller municipalities). One month ago, if you had told me this would happen, I probably would have laughed hard and called you a fool. Well, it happened.

So far, the M5Smentum is still on a roll: recent polling now systematically predicts a double-digit score, and a poll even showed the M5S placing second, above the PdL. This is, by any measurable criterion, a major political event which cannot be downplayed as a fluke or a temporary protest vote. Something is going on in Italy, something which drives a sizable number of voters to change decades-long political habits and vote for a party which doesn’t even bother to try looking credible. How to explain such breakthrough? As upsetting as the M5S surge might be, its roots aren’t as obscure as one may initially think. Three factors can be mentioned.

First of all, obviously, the crisis. The lingering recession and rampant unemployment Italy is enduring have been made even worse by the government’s austerity measures. Whether you are a retiree who has seen his (already meager) pension severely cut, or a small entrepreneur on the verge of default because of an unsustainable tax burden (the share of taxes in the Italian GDP is among the highest in Europe – countries with similar rates tend to have, of course, much more effective welfare states and public services), there are plenty of reasons to be angry at the government – at the current government, but even more at past governments who have put Italy in this mess. While Italy’s situation has not reached the levels of Greece or even Spain, the suffering of many Italians, and, even more, their lack of any hope in a better future, ought not to be underestimated.

The second factor lies in the nature Italy’s political class. If Grillo meets so much success when he says politicians suck, that’s because there is a great deal of truth in that. Italian politicians (left and right alike) are, in their great majority, useless, egomaniac, corrupt, stupid, arrogant, stale party tools who don’t give a sh*t about public good and are unable to come up with anything useful for their constituents. It is barely an overstatement to say a new corruption scandal breaks up in Italy every week. While the corruption and general uselessness of Italian politicians is a long-established tradition which people usually don’t mind, the situation has been made untenable since Monti’s government has stressed upon the need for “sacrifices” and pushed forward austerity measures. Suddenly, all the privileges of “la casta” were publically exposed (lifelong pensions for MPs, heads of government agencies literally earning more than the US President, a systematic embezzlement of the public funding of parties, etc…) and the contrast with everyday life led to a huge backlash against politicians as a whole. It is no wonder, in such a situation, that Grillo’s message found such an echo. Especially after traditional parties were repeatedly called out to take action, and systematically proved unable or unwilling to seriously change things.

Finally, there is a highly paradoxical component in the M5S’ recent success. Looking at electoral numbers in places where M5S candidates made a breakthrough, one cannot avoid correlating it, at least to some extent, to the demise of right -wing parties. As it was previously said, both PdL and Lega utterly collapsed during these elections. Where did their voters go? Most of them certainly abstained, explaining why turnout numbers were so abysmal by Italian standards. However, it has been established that a significant share of them have actually switched sides to M5S. Many former right-wing voters, in short, cast a ballot for a party which holds far-left positions on several key issues. As crazy as this might sound, it can make sense in context. What one needs to keep in mind is that many votes for right-wing parties over the past decades were not ideological votes. This is particularly true for Lega, a party well-known for attracting anti-establishment protest voters with its populist rhetoric. When the sh*tstorm broke out, many Lega voters felt betrayed by a party which turned out to be as corrupt as the others (actually, more) and may thus feel attracted by a similarly anti-establishment party like M5S. To a lesser extent, people who had voted for PdL out of adhesion to Berlusconi’s charismatic figure may now find a possible substitute in Grillo, who is an “outsider” like Berlusconi was in 1994. The M5S’ anti-tax rhetoric could also strike a powerful chord among right-wing voters, as could the desire to prevent the left from winning, by whatever means available.

Anyways, all this places M5S in a weird situation ahead of 2013. If its “unlikely coalition” (made of idealist lefties, people angry at “la casta”, eternal protesters, and disaffected right-wing voters) holds on, it is bound to achieve an electoral feat of epic proportions. It could very well displace the PdL as the second party or, in an even crazier scenario, become Italy’s biggest party. Such a breakthrough would have no comparison in the country’s history apart from Forza Italia, the party Berlusconi had founded out of nothing in 1994 and which went to win that year’s elections with 21% of the votes. That being said, this is not the scenario I would personally bet on. Until now, M5S has taken a huge benefit from the conjunctural factors I highlighted below. But populist parties like M5S are highly dependent on the mood swings of the electorate, and a slight improvement in the country’s economy, a couple of serious reforms moralizing political practices, or the reconstruction of a credible right might be enough to turn the tide. With ten months to go, we have all the time needed to discover whether the M5S will prove itself a serious political contender or a mere fad. So far, its polling numbers seem to be settling in the high double-digits, statistically tied with PdL for second place. Any result over 10% will probably be considered as a major success for M5S regardless of the expectances, and would significantly transform Italy’s political landscape.


Other parties :

Some smaller parties don’t deserve full coverage but ought to be mentioned nonetheless.

Future and Freedom for Italy (Futuro e Libertà per l'Italia, FLI) : A splitoff from the PdL founded by Gianfranco Fini in 2010 after his definitive breakup with Berlusconi. FLI clearly positions itself to the right of the political spectrum, seeking to “renew” (translate: deberlusconize) the Italian right and turn it into a modern, liberal right. It was at the centre of political spotlights for a few months in late 2010, when it seemed on the brink of toppling Berlusconi. After such attempt failed on December 14, however, the party struggled to find an appealing message. It was one of the main founders of the Third Pole, but soon found itself overshadowed by Casini’s UDC and has gradually fallen into irrelevancy. It currently polls around 3%.
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2012, 10:55:26 am »
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Federation of the Left (Federazione della Sinistra, FdS) : A coalition formed in 2009 by the two old paleocommunist twins, the Party of Communist Refoundation (PRC) and the Party of Italian Communists (PdCI), as well as other minor far-left parties. In parliamentary elections from 1992 to 2006, the two parties together used to perform between 6-9%, and had participated into several governing coalitions with the left. In 2008 however, they got wiped out of parliament, with their common list – The Rainbow Left – unable to reach the 4% threshold. Since then, PRC and PdCI have been unable to regain their past prominence, and their polling numbers as FdS are stuck around 2-3%. They have particularly suffered from competition with Vendola’s SEL, which appears as a more modern and credible left-wing force. It is unclear whether the FdS plans to run in coalition with the PD and other left parties for 2013, but the media tend to assume it eventually will.

The Right (La Destra) : A hard-right (arguably far-right) party founded by former AN bigwig Francesco Storace in 2007, after his breakup with Fini. Storace, in disagreement with AN’s liberal and centre-right turn under Fini, sought to create a nationalist, socially conservative and vaguely “social” right-wing force. La Destra refused to merge into the PdL and stood alone during the 2008 elections, polling slightly above 2% and winning no seat. They were invited to enter the Berlusconi government in 2011, thus effectively rejoining the mainstream right coalition. Apart from the peculiarity of being the only party which remains loyal to the PdL, it is a pretty irrelevant party, polling between 2 and 3%.

Alliance for Italy (Alleanza per l'Italia, API) : A splitoff from the PD founded in 2009 by Francesco Rutelli, the former party boss of La Margherita, who found the PD to be too left-wing for his tastes. API is basically a bland centrist party, which claims inspirations from liberalism, reformism, federalism, ecologism and other cute things. In practice, it’s Rutelli’s personal vehicle. It’s the third component of the Third Pole, but people often forget to even mention it alongside the other two. It desperately struggles to break 1% in polls.

Italian Socialist Party (Partito Socialista Italiano, PSI) : The Nth desperate attempt to resurrect the historical PSI (which, in the case you forgot, had to disband after being crippled with corruption scandals). It was founded in 2007 by a myriad of smaller neo-socialist outfits. It took just under 1% of the vote in 2008, and polls suggest that its 2013 result will be similar. It might or might not be a part of the left coalition, but nobody cares.

Ecologists and Civic Networks (Ecologisti e Reti Civiche) : The latest avatar of Italian greens, which, since their foundation in late 1980s, have been an uninterrupted failure. Greens in Italy had traditionally polled around 2-3% of the votes. In 2008, they were part of the Rainbow Left list which, as mentioned above, failed miserably. Since then, they have been a non-factor. Like PSI, they hover around 1% in polls, and like PSI they might be inside the left coalition.

Bonino-Pannella list, aka the Radicals : The Radical Party was the political novelty of 1970s Italy : a socially liberal, vehemently secularist and anti-establishment party, attracting a young and modernist electorate. Since its disbandment in 1988, the fight for radical ideals has been spearheaded by two perennial candidates: Marco Pannella and Emma Bonino. There have been myriads of Pannella, Bonino, or Pannella-Bonino lists running in various elections with various electoral fates, from the 1990s to modern day. There will probably be another of those in 2013, which, according to the polls, should win 1 or maybe 2%. P&B seem to be pissed off at the PD in recent times, so they probably will run on their own.

Movement for Autonomies (Movimento per le Autonomie, MpA) : A southern-based regionalist party founded in 2005 by Sicilian UDC bigwig Raffaele Lombardo. MpA is ideologically moderate/centrist and used to be a member of the right-wing coalition. In 2008, it won slightly more than 1% and 8 seats in the House. However, it left Berlusconi’s government in late 2010, voted for the failed no-confidence motion and subsequently joined the Third Pole. It is a non-factor in this election, polling below 1%.

Other parties include the Italian Liberal Party, a lame attempt at reviving the historical PLI and a member of the Third Pole, Grande Sud (“great south”), a southerner party, several regionalist parties like the Südtiroler Volkspartei, a random animal rights party, and many, many more useless outfits nobody gives a rat’s ass about.


The voting system

Italy’s voting system is the epitome of a complete mess. The election law was passed in 2005, under Berlusconi’s second tenure in office. Its sponsor, Lega Nord minister Roberto Calderoli, infamously called it a “porcata” (which approximately means “a sh*tload”), earning the election law its nickname Porcellum (a latinization of the word “porcello”, meaning “piglet”). In a nutshell, the system is based on proportional representation, though a significantly altered (one could say rigged) form of PR. The winning coalition, no matter how many votes it gets, is ensured to win an absolute majority (in the House at least). This was the short version: if you want to understand the system is its full details, read through the rest of this section and prepare for a massive headache.

I’ll first explain the way the House is elected, then will explain more shortly the differences with the Senate’s voting system. Hopefully this will save some time. So, the House has 630 seats, of which 617 are allocated to the bulk of Italy, 12 to Italians living abroad and 1 to Valle d’Aosta. Regarding the main bulk of seats, the voters vote for closed party lists. Among the parties running, certain are running together inside coalition: they are still running separately (meaning you can choose between one list or another) but their votes will be counted together for certain purposes. In order to be counted as such, a coalition must however break 10% of the votes in order to be recognized as such (if it fails to, its parties are counted as if they ran individually). For parties running individually, the electoral threshold is 4% (with an exemption for parties representing “linguistic minorities” if they win more than 20% in one constituency).

The repartition of the 617 seats among recognized coalitions and independent parties meeting the threshold is based on largest remainder PR (if you don’t know what largest remainder means, have a look at this). However, if under such repartition no coalition would get at least 340 seats (ie 55% of them), then the coalition with the highest number of votes is automatically awarded 340 seats, and the remaining 277 are apportioned through largest remainder PR to the other coalitions/single parties qualifying. Then, the seats awarded to coalitions are themselves apportioned between the parties which make them up (once again through single remainder PR). In order to access seat allocation, in-coalition parties must have received at least 2% of valid votes (the top vote-getter falling below that threshold is admitted to representation as well, and the “linguistic minority” clause is also applied).

Note that there are 26 multi-member constituencies for the election of these 617 Deputies. However, the repartition of Deputies among constituencies occurs after the apportionment among parties and is done inside each party, meaning that the number of Deputies each constituency elects may vary. Regarding the remaining 13 seats… The single Deputy representing Valle d’Aosta is elected through FPP. As for the 12 seats for Italians abroad, they are elected via open-list PR in four constituencies (Europe with 6 seats, South America 3, North-Central America 2, rest of the world 1).

All right, that’s about it. Now let’s rush through the Senate. There are 315 seats, 309 in Italy proper and 6 for Italians abroad. The voting system is roughly the same as for the House, with a couple differences. First of all, the allocation of seats is not done nationwide, but within each region (which means that a coalition can win the bonus in one region and lose it in another). Electoral thresholds (applied at the regional level) are also higher: 20% for coalitions, 8% for single parties, and 3% for parties within coalitions. There are also a couple of regional peculiarities. In Molise, the two Senators are elected through normal PR. Trentino Alto Adige elects 6 Senators through FPP in single-member constituencies and one more through compensatory PR. Like for the House, Valle d’Aosta has its own Senator, elected through FPP. Finally, the 6 Senators representing Italians abroad are elected in the same constituencies as Deputies (electing respectively 2, 2, 1 and 1) and with the same system.

If you have managed to pull through this without getting a headache or falling asleep, congrats. For normal countries, explaining how the voting system works only takes a couple lines, not four goddamn paragraphs! I’m not saying simplicity is an inherently good thing for voting systems: some degree of sophistication might be a good thing, helping to make the system fairer or more effective. But here, it definitely goes too far. Especially when it comes to the most ridiculous and useless exceptions (the “highest party under 2%” clause in the House, the Trentino peculiarity in the Senate…), it seems like they found every possible excuse to make simple things complicated. Now, you can easily figure out what the average Italian understands of all this sh*t: not much. That’s right, they’ve come with a system that most voters are unable to understand. Then people wonder why the gap between citizens and the political elites is widening…
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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2012, 10:56:09 am »
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But anyways, complicatedness is only the lesser of the problems this system generates. They centre of all critics lies in the majority bonus system. In theory, a coalition could win only 10% of votes and still get its guaranteed 340 seats. And, in return, the votes for other coalitions/parties can easily get very distorted (and the lower the score of the winning coalition is, the more others see themselves underrepresented. While, in the two parliamentary elections held with this system until now, the winning coalition has performed decently enough to avoid excessive distortions, in some local elections (which use a similar system) some coalitions could get less than 20% and still have 60% of seats. Yay proportionality… This is made even worse by the difference in thresholds between in-coalition parties and “unaffiliated” parties. It might be legitimate to treat coalition parties more favorably, but this goes way too far. In 2006, a party list made of two irrelevant parties affiliated to Berlusconi’s coalition got 0.7% and won seats. In 2008, the “Rainbow left” list got 3.1% and won no seat.

And then, we have the Senate. The purpose of making it a body representing regions might be honorable, but in practice it pretty much ruins the point of a majority bonus. In a country as regionally polarized as Italy, if the margin is close nationally, it might easily end up as a virtual tie in term of seats (in 2006, it went 159-156 in favor of the left). This wouldn’t be a huge deal, if Italy’s political system weren’t based on “perfect” bicameralism, meaning that the two Houses have exactly the same powers and that the government needs a majority in both in order to function. This has a major impact on the legendary precariousness of Italian governments and their constant inability at enacting policies. Prodi’s downfall in 2008 was precisely caused by his loss of Senatorial majority (the House majority being solid enough).

However, the voting system I just described might very well be history by the time the next election is held. In recent months indeed, PD and PdL have appeared willing to reach a bipartisan agreement on electoral reform.  If such a deal succeeds, that would make it the third electoral reform in less than 20 years. The current election law has been criticized from the outset. Initially, criticisms were concentrated on the left of the political spectrum (even though some leftists certainly laughed hard at the right’s face in 2006), but, after spending years defending it, rightists have also started to acknowledge its flaws. Until now however, nothing concrete has come, as political attention has been focused on different topics. In the talks, debates and polemics regarding the electoral issues, two main options seem to be taking shape.

The first one would be a “German” system: half of MPs elected in single-member constituencies, but the overall repartition of seats being fully proportional (albeit with a 5% threshold). I am highly skeptical about such an option, because the nature of Italy’s political landscape would probably make it unworkable. Even with a 5% threshold, full PR would give no majority to any of the current coalitions (especially with a M5S in high single-digits). The result would either be complete political deadlock, or a German-like “grand coalition” staying in place forever (the continued bickering between PD and PdL while they both support Monti shows us this isn’t a great idea). Unsurprisingly, this solution is popular with Casini&co, and to a lesser extent in the PdL (as it would allow them to keep some power even if they poll awfully).

The PD, instead, seems to be putting forward a second option: a “French” system, based on two-round FPP in single-member constituencies. This system is appreciated because it could easily give an absolute majority to the party most likely to gather 50% of the voters in a runoff (by any means, the PD). For PDers, getting rid of their coalition partners is a long-standing wet dream. Smaller parties (IdV and SEL, but also UDC and Lega), on the other hand, obviously aren’t fond of the idea. It is hard to know what will come out of all this (maybe nothing will come at all…), but the debate over electoral reform is certainly one of the things to keep track of ahead of 2013. If a new election law is passed, I’ll make sure to explain its functioning in detail as I did for the current one.


Things to follow

Throughout the electoral campaign, here is what one should keep an eye on in order to have an idea what’s going on. I won’t be commenting about every event, so you guys might want to be self-sufficient. Wink

First off, obviously, the polls. I will do my best to post polls regularly, and in a couple weeks I will try to put up a weekly polling tracker inspired by Fab’s in the French election thread. If you want to look at polls by yourself, here is the Italian polling archive where you will find all election polls ordered by date of publication. Before I come up with a permanent tracker, here’s an overview of the parties’ standings as measured in the past 7 days. Just to give you an idea, seven polls were published this week! Italy kicks ass when compared to France. Wink However, I don’t know which polling firms are reliable and which aren’t, so some averaging might be useful. The first number is the average of the 7 polls (some smaller parties weren’t always polled, so in this case I averaged only the polls where they appeared). In parentheses, you have the maximal and minimal result, in order to give an idea of the uncertainty.

PD : 25.5 (24-27.5)
PdL : 17.5 (16-18.7)
M5S : 17.1 (14.8-19.8)
UDC : 6.9 (5.6-8)
IdV : 6.6 (4.4-8.4)
SEL : 6.3 (5.6-7.2)
Lega : 5.3 (4.5-6.8)
FLI : 2.8 (1.6-4)
FdS : 2.7 (2.4-3)
Destra : 2.6 (1.4-4.4) (polled 6 times)
Radicals : 1.6 (0.6-2.8) (polled 5 times)
Greens : 1.2 (0.8-1.6) (polled 4 times)
PSI : 1 (0.8-1.2) (polled 4 times)
MpA : 0.5 (0.1-0.6) (polled 5 times)
API : 0.4 (0.1-0.7) (polled 5 times)

Grouping by coalition:

Left : 42.6 (40.9-44.4)
Right : 25.3 (22-29.8)
Third Pole : 10.4 (9.2-11.2)
No coalition : 21.7 (20.1-24)

As you can see, Italian polls love to give us decimal number, which, despite being useless, are more fun than entire numbers. Overall, we can see that some parties are pretty well estimated (PD, PdL, FdS) while others involve a huge amount of uncertainty (chiefly M5S, but also IdV or Lega). Stay tuned to see the evolution of these numbers in the following weeks ! Smiley

Apart from the polls, a couple other trends you should keep track of:
- The economic situation, which in times of crisis can significantly affect the mood of the electorate. If things get better, expect a decrease in protest votes (M5S in particular), a higher turnout and an advantage to moderate parties (PD, PdL, UDC). If things get worse, expect the contrary. An important indicator of Italy’s situation is the spread of Italy’s 10-year government securities, which you can follow here.
- The bills debated in Parliament, and whether they pass or fail. Special attention, of course, to economy-related bills (for the above reasons). But see also bills related to corruption or justice issues, the debates on electoral reform or the attempts to cut the privileges of elected officials. They can influence the electorate in many ways, and if a bill introduced by the government were to fail, snap elections would likely be called.
- What the media say: the hot topics, the main debates of the time, the issues brought to the spotlight… There’s not need to remind how much these things matter. You can easily find the websites of most Italian media: Google “Repubblica”, “Corriere” or “Giornale” for print media, “Rai”, “Mediaset” or “La7” for televisions. By following medias you will also get to know if a politician said or did something noteworthy (that doesn’t happen often, though Wink).


All right, this is it. For those who managed to read through it, I hope you enjoyed my overview of these elections. When I started writing this, I never expected to write so much, but at least now I’m pretty sure I haven’t neglected any important issue. There is only one aspect of this presentation I haven’t included: political geography. Italy is a pretty fascinating place in this regard, but unfortunately I don’t know enough on the topic to write anything worthwhile. I hope you are not too disappointed by this absence. Anyways, thanks to those who took the time to read this, and looking forward to an exciting campaign! Smiley
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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2012, 11:07:43 am »
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5 Stelle polls 15-20% now ?

WTF ?

(Didn't follow Italy for quite a while now, so what happened briefly ?)
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2012, 11:17:10 am »
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His most common catchphrase is “they are all dead” referring to the political class, parties and traditional institutions.

I thought Grillo's catchphrase was "vaffanculo!"

Oh yes, this too. Tongue

Thx.


5 Stelle polls 15-20% now ?

WTF ?

(Didn't follow Italy for quite a while now, so what happened briefly ?)

I have tried to explain the MRS surge to the best of my knowledge in the apposite section. In summary, the massive breakthrough happened during the May mayoral elections, with M5S winning Parma along with 3 smaller cities. The hypotheses I'd put up to explain the surge are 1) the crisis and discontent at austerity policies 2) frustration at the mediocrity and corruptness of Italian politicians 3) the collapse of the right parties which opened an opportunity. If you want more details, read the section. Tongue
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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

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« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2012, 11:46:29 am »
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Well done Antonio! i think this is a fantastic start to begin an analysis of Italy...

I know I would LOVE a political Geographic write-up... i'm sure someone here could help with that if they had the knowledge... hint hint, we'd all love it i'm sure. I'm not that familiar either and anyone can do a wiki-based write up if we were desperate.

The italian electoral system is just a mess; isn't this the third system they put in place in the last 10-20 years?

... ok i will admit it too, i love Vendola (politically and in italy i might be tempted to literally) Tongue

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« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2012, 11:59:44 am »
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The vote better take place in 2013 (and I'm assuming it will) since I won't have much to follow that year on this side of the Atlantic. Should be highly entertaining, as usual.

And they're going with a new system? Well, at least it will make more sense than what it is now.
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2012, 12:42:40 pm »
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This is great and it will be very entertaining.

A suggestion about Beppe Grillo`s "party": Maybe the emphasis in the "V" is because it means "five" in Latin numbers. The connectivity issue reminds me a Telecom Ad.
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2012, 03:55:14 pm »

I need to read it in its entirety, but this is way better than my France 2012 megathread. Excellent work, my friend Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2012, 04:10:08 pm »
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Thank you all. It's great to see you like it. Smiley


I know I would LOVE a political Geographic write-up... i'm sure someone here could help with that if they had the knowledge... hint hint, we'd all love it i'm sure. I'm not that familiar either and anyone can do a wiki-based write up if we were desperate.

I think I know who you're talking about. Wink And yes, I'd love to see it too. That said, we should probably wait until French legislative elections are over.


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The italian electoral system is just a mess; isn't this the third system they put in place in the last 10-20 years?

Yes, indeed. Italy used to have full, straight and threshold-less PR throughout the First Republic. In 1993, a referendum repealed the electoral law (PR was associated with partitocracy and political fragmentation, and there were widespread calls for a switch to FPP). The electoral law subsequently passed was nicknamed "Mattarellum" ("mattarello" means rolling pin) and was even more of a mess than the current one. It was a kind of lame form of MPP by which 75% of MPs were elected through FPP in single-member constituencies and the remaining 25% were elected on a compensatory party-list PR, through a complicated system of "list linking". This system lasted until 2005, when the current electoral law was passed. What will happen from now to next April, nobody knows.


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The vote better take place in 2013 (and I'm assuming it will) since I won't have much to follow that year on this side of the Atlantic. Should be highly entertaining, as usual.

Yeah, I don't see PdL being suicidal enough to topple Monti, so the legislature will last until the regular end of its term.


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And they're going with a new system? Well, at least it will make more sense than what it is now.

Well, this remain to be seen.


A suggestion about Beppe Grillo`s "party": Maybe the emphasis in the "V" is because it means "five" in Latin numbers. The connectivity issue reminds me a Telecom Ad.

Wow, I didn't think about that. You might be right, yeah.
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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

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« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2012, 05:25:07 pm »
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Thanks for making this, Antonio.  Well done.  I know it seems unlikely, but at this point, what are the chances (approximately) of an internal PD primary?  And would it be open to just PD people, or other members of the center-left coalition as well, the way regional and municipal ones have been?  And who would be some potential alternatives to Bersani, if they were to take place? (besides Renzi...really don't like that guy.) I'm guessing they'd be pretty divisive and potentially lead to the PD splitting up....:/




*Still got my fingers crossed for Vendola, hoping he gets his momentum back somehow*
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2012, 07:55:14 pm »
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Oh, Vendola isn't doing well anymore? Part of me would love to have him as the Left's standard bearer and the other part of me worries that he'd end up being Prime Minister.
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« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2012, 10:10:40 pm »
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The thing that struck me about this thread was how good your English is (that is to say, very good).
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The idea of parodying the preceding Atlasian's postings is laughable, of course, but not for reasons one might expect.
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« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2012, 07:26:33 am »
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The problem with predictions is that we still don't know what will happen with coalitions.
Whether new people (Montezemolo?) will enter the race and the alliances that will be formed.
Moreover 40-50% of people abstain in polls but more than half of them are likely to vote.
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« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2012, 10:24:24 am »
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Oh, Vendola isn't doing well anymore? Part of me would love to have him as the Left's standard bearer and the other part of me worries that he'd end up being Prime Minister.
I'd love to see him as the left's standard bearer, and I'd love to see him become PM, because he no longer identifies as a communist, and he has governed the Puglia region pretty pragmatically (cutting red tape for small businesses for example), plus he's got more charisma than a million Bersanis combined.  Btw, to which faction of the PD does Catiuscia Marini belong, out of curiosity?
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« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2012, 11:39:56 am »
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Formigoni just survived a no confidence vote. Is he still trying to position himself to lead the PdL or am I way behind? Tongue
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« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2012, 03:37:30 pm »
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Thanks for making this, Antonio.  Well done.  I know it seems unlikely, but at this point, what are the chances (approximately) of an internal PD primary?  And would it be open to just PD people, or other members of the center-left coalition as well, the way regional and municipal ones have been?  And who would be some potential alternatives to Bersani, if they were to take place? (besides Renzi...really don't like that guy.) I'm guessing they'd be pretty divisive and potentially lead to the PD splitting up....:/

To be honest, I have no clue. If you ask me about probabilities, I'd say it's 60% no primary, 30% PD primary, 10% left-wing primary. The last thing the PD apparatus wants is having to back a non-PD candidate for PM, no matter if it would be a far more charismatic candidate. This is just my wild guess, nothing more. As for who would win primaries, I really have no idea. It's not like I know the main PD members very well anyways, and anything could happen during the campaing. If you asked me, I'd bet on an outsider though. The people's mood these times is very much anti-establishment, even inside established parties like PD.


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Oh, Vendola isn't doing well anymore? Part of me would love to have him as the Left's standard bearer and the other part of me worries that he'd end up being Prime Minister.

Were Vendola the left's candidate, I'd call the election for the left right now. Wink


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The thing that struck me about this thread was how good your English is (that is to say, very good).

Thank you, this is very important to me. I ought to thank this forum if I'm able to write this way.


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The problem with predictions is that we still don't know what will happen with coalitions.
Whether new people (Montezemolo?) will enter the race and the alliances that will be formed.
Moreover 40-50% of people abstain in polls but more than half of them are likely to vote.

Montezemolo ? Really ? Even in the remote eventuality that he decides to run, don't count on him to play a major role. Anyways, mine isn't a prediction but simply a guide to follow the upcoming campaign knowing what is the situation at this point.


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Formigoni just survived a no confidence vote. Is he still trying to position himself to lead the PdL or am I way behind? Tongue

Yeah, right. Another obviously-corrupt politician is exactly what the PdL needs to stop the bleeding. Tongue
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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

"A reformist is someone who realizes that, when you bang your head on a wall, it's the head that breaks rather than the wall."

Peppino, from the movie Baaria
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« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2012, 10:55:39 pm »
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So what is the current least corrupt party that has its act together? And by that I mean is capable of governing and is not tearing itself apart in destructive internal power struggles. (And by party I mean legitimate party, so no 5 Stelle)
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« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2012, 12:27:30 am »
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So what is the current least corrupt party that has its act together? And by that I mean is capable of governing and is not tearing itself apart in destructive internal power struggles. (And by party I mean legitimate party, so no 5 Stelle)

As in Brazil, unfortunally, no party can govern without giving It's rings to the corrupt system. But IdV's foundation was in order to bring 'Clean Hands' inside politics, and SEL inherits the PCI tradition of being less corrupt than the others. I guess the IdV would clash with the system and be unable to do anything, while SEL would SEL out. Pityfull, as I think Vendola, agree You or not with his political positions, is a fresh breeze on Italian politics.
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« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2012, 04:04:33 am »
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If I had to rank the parties' corruptness based on the number and gravity of scandals involving their members, PdL naturally stands out as the most corrupt, followed by Lega. Then come the traditionally established parties (PD, UDC, API, etc.) which are roughly tied. Sadly, even IdV is not exacly spotless (the most famous corrupt turncoat which allowed Berlusconi to survive on december 2010 came from its ranks), though there's little doubt Di Pietro himself is honest. Even Vendola has been recently embroiled in some scandal regarding his region, though I don't know how serious the allegations are. M5S is obviously not corrupt, since until recently they had no officeholder.
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Robb of the House Stark, First of his Name, Lord of Winterfell and King in the North



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22:15   ComradeSibboleth   this is all extremely terrible and in all respects absolutely fycking dire.

"A reformist is someone who realizes that, when you bang your head on a wall, it's the head that breaks rather than the wall."

Peppino, from the movie Baaria
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« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2012, 04:17:26 am »
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Formigoni just survived a no confidence vote. Is he still trying to position himself to lead the PdL or am I way behind? Tongue

No, no more, just trying to ramain in office in Lombardy till 2015
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« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2012, 06:50:06 am »
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If I had to rank the parties' corruptness based on the number and gravity of scandals involving their members, PdL naturally stands out as the most corrupt, followed by Lega. Then come the traditionally established parties (PD, UDC, API, etc.) which are roughly tied. Sadly, even IdV is not exacly spotless (the most famous corrupt turncoat which allowed Berlusconi to survive on december 2010 came from its ranks), though there's little doubt Di Pietro himself is honest. Even Vendola has been recently embroiled in some scandal regarding his region, though I don't know how serious the allegations are. M5S is obviously not corrupt, since until recently they had no officeholder.

For the little I've aknowledge, It seemed to be some type of file shredding. Or the guy was doing bad things and Vendola got rid of him without letting the douche come out of the toilet, or Vendola was involved himself, which I find less probable, but proves my point, anyway.
About IdV... I really wasn't aware of that guy (I usually care more about the south than national politics, for silly sentimental reasons) but then... Does that means even then would get onto the Italian political culture antics?
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