There are nights when, after a long and tiring day spent studying on my desk, I close the eyes and start thinking of the future of my country. I think of an era with no Bunga Bunga, no corruption, no conflict of interests, no Berlusconi. I think of an Italy led by a strong and honest political coalition. But the dream doesn’t last long. As I realize I can’t visualize that country, I get my feet back on the ground and restart my readings. However, it seems somebody else can see that country. That’s Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist, who has recently published a book about post-Berlusconi Italy: Forza, Italia: Come Ripartire dopo Berlusconi ( Come on Italy, how to restart after Berlusconi).
Yesterday evening, during a meeting promoted by LSE Italian Society, Mr Emmott said that after the fall of Berlusconi’s “artificial coalition” renovation can come from left and center political forces.
According to the senior journalist, Italy is more than corruption, conflict of interests and Mafia. It is also the country of “young and old people’s activism”, a country that has not lost its “vibrant culture” and “willingness of renovation”. Though recognizing the problems of Italian politics, Emmott still has faith in the opposition coalitions. The “artificiality” of the opposition parties and their reliance on Berlusconi’s political system are not enough to prevent him from finding a spirit of reformation “running from Bersani to Fini, from the PD through the Terzo Polo”. Let’s take a look at these renovating forces.
Firstly, the Democratic Party (PD) is the principal Left-wing party of Italy. It is led by 60 year-old Pier Luigi Bersani. As Emmott himself said, the PD has turned out to be “an incoherent party in terms of ideas and agenda” and its coalitions have failed to solve Berlusconi’s conflict of interests. However, Emmott said that a new generation of politicians is emerging. He mentioned Matteo Renzi, mayor of Florence, who in the past has criticized PD senior members, calling for regeneration of the party leadership. I admit I was first struck by Renzi but my enthusiasm got weaker after he revealed that he had visited Berlusconi at his private house to talk about commercial concessions Berlusconi had promised to Florence. Though this might not be a major scandal in the eyes of an Italian, it does show the permanence of old-fashioned and incorrect logics behind the PD politics.
The Terzo Polo (Third Pole) is an informal term to recall a group of parties that now stand in the center of Italian politics. They don’t make up a coalition officially but over the last weeks their votes have turned out essential for Berlusconi. The coalition groups Gianfranco Fini’s FLI and Pierferdinando Casini’s UDC.Fini had been Berlusconi’s main ally since last summer, when he split from the coalition and founded his own party. After a 16-year partnership, Mr Fini suddenly became one of the fiercest enemies of Il Cavaliere and the main source of destabilization for his government. Another evident example of coherence is provided by Casini’s UDC, a party based on solid Christian values, as Casini’s biography confirms ( he’s been married twice). Indeed, over the last sixteen years Casini has joined so many different coalitions I can’t even recount them.
Though I’m struggling to see any renovating forces within this desolating scenario, I really can’t. Mr Emmott, though showing great knowledge of Italy and its people, tends to be simplistic when talking about the future. No change can come from these parties. Berlusconi, following a long-established political tradition, has created a corrupt system that has affected the whole political scenario.
However, there’s still something to have faith in. I’m not talking about Nichi Vendola and Antonio Di Pietro, though their two parties are possibly the only genuine political formations that have survived in Italy. I don’t want to talk about them because I don’t want to think of the future. I rather want to keep my feet on the ground and think of the present. I want to keep my eyes open and see my people shout their anger in the streets and fight for their rights to have a better country. Only then all the Italians will be allowed to think of their future. And they won’t have to close their eyes to see it.