Amidst the rather pathetic reaction from some bloggers to the Berlusconi affair, Henry Farrell has a series of refreshingly good posts on the man himself and the political fall-out from the affair – well worth a read.
On the same topic – I was chatting with an Italian leftist friend today and came away much more confident about the ability of the opposition to Berlusconi to finally get their act together. It is not going to be easy with the Italian left split into several parties ranging from Blairites to old communists and with the reformed electoral system forcing them into formal alliances but there are indications that agreements will be reached.
At the same time as the left begins to gel, the the right are showing signs of division.
The ex-secessionist Lega Nord did very badly in some of the recent local elections and have responded by launching openly xenophobic campaigns against immigrants and Muslims in particular in the hope of picking up some support from the ‘post-fascist’ National Alliance (who along with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia make up the governing coalition).
The Lega’s leader Umberto Bossi is a notoriously unstable politician, who brought down Berlusconi’s first government, and his current belligerent mood suggests that there could be a lot of trouble ahead within the governing coalition.
That might be good news for the Italian left but it is a different matter for those of us who support European integration. Everything that happens in Italian politics is going to be amplified in the next six months due to the EU presidency and I suspect that the viruently anti-EU, Bossi (who recently suggested that illegal immigrants arriving by boat should be shot at), could provide a lot more trouble than Berlo’s pantomime performance at Strasbourg.
As Farrell notes, the impact is already being felt with Berlusconi’s gaffe being used by supporters of abolition of the rotating presidency in the Union.
Suddenly European Union politics just got interesting.