Until March 4th, Italy was led by the Partito Democratica, a collection of Socialists, crypto-Communists and assorted leftists. Italians voted on that day to shift to the right. But that shift still entails some horse-trading among a gaggle of right-wing parties to form a government.
Italian voters have seven viable parties to pick from. Unlike our system, in parliamentary democracies party ideology shapes elections more than a candidate’s charisma. So, since the fall of Fascism Italy governs itself mainly through coalitions of major parties. Here are the major parties, left to right:
I used to think our republic was superior to Italy’s, with its flimsy coalitions, revolving door governments, and endless elections. But our Electoral College, lobby-infested Congress, and endless undeclared wars have made our “sacred” Constitution look like Swiss cheese. Yet, with each election Italians are finding out that multiple choice isn’t the cure for everything, either.
In 1992, the country was rocked by political scandals. Immortalized as “Bribe City,” some 5,000 public figures were investigated. Half of the members of the parliament were under indictment. More than 400 city and town councils were tossed out for corruption. The estimated value of bribes paid annually in the 1980s for large government contracts reached $4 billion – and organized crime took its share. The national debt soared, the lira was an embarrassment at 1,500 to the dollar, and North-South tensions got personal.
Italians questioned their ability to govern themselves. So, they became founding members of the new European Union, dropped the lira, joined the passport-free zone, and sent delegates to the European parliament. Problems solved? Not quite.
Today, Italians complain that the Union is just a vehicle for German power and the euro an economic straitjacket. Open borders flooded Italy with Albanians, Romanians, and Gypsies who brought ethnic problems, poverty, and crime. Worse, the single market attracted illegal Africans and Asians to Italian shores who hoped to find jobs in northern Europe. Instead of helping Italy disperse these illegals the Union allowed other members to close their borders, leaving Italians to house, feed, and absorb the stranded aliens – 600,00 by one estimate.
Just as Donald Trump was elected to end open borders Italian voters shifted right to preserve Italian sovereignty. Many want out of the European Union, an exit that even the British, who don’t use the euro, are finding hard to negotiate. Italians see Poland, Hungary and other eastern members defy the Union by refusing to accept Italy’s illegals. The bloom has even dropped off the American rose in Italy. Italians aren’t buying into the jingo of strength-in-diversity or the mobilization against Russia – one of Italy’s energy suppliers.
For the average Italian, ethnic diversity is not a joy to behold. Diversity caused Europe’s worst conflicts – ethnic problems in the Balkans ignited the First World War, stranded ethnic minorities fueled the Second. The leftist government has gone so far as to populate remote Italian villages with aliens. They are given vouchers that can only be spent within the village, usually with pictures of Che Guevara, Haile Selassie, or others to make them feel at home. With 1.5 million Muslims now resident, Chinese colonies and their syndicates dominating key industries (the port of Naples is operated by COSCO, the largest Chinese state-owned shipping company), and Africans and Asians demanding citizenship many Italians long for the past – even a forbidden one.
A recent film debuted titled Sono Tornato (I’m Back), about a fantasy return of Benito Mussolini. Warns film director Luca Maniero, “Watching what is happening, today, in our country, I am convinced that if Mussolini came back, he would win the election.”
In truth, right-wing movements, like those to the left, are reactions. How far they go in either direction depends on the national character and the degree of outrage that provokes them. Italians are frustrated. But the solution to their problems must be found within. -JLM