Monday, 25 February 2013

Never mind Berlusconi – what about the Liberals?

The results of the Italian general election are emerging and they are not a pretty sight. In fact, they are a confusing sight, with several dozen political parties fighting the election mostly as part of joint lists, which combined with other lists to form complicated alliances or coalitions. In some cases, parties have split, with members fighting each other on rival lists.

The likely winner (according to exit polls) is the centre-left alliance Bene Comune (Common Good), though the term ‘winner’ here means first place but not an overall majority.

In second place is Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition, which has performed better than expected. Although it will not form a government, it will have sufficient power to paralyse any new administration.

Meanwhile, third place (with up to 25% of the seats in the lower house) has been taken by the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle (or M5S, Five Star Movement) led by a former comedian, Beppe Grillo.

Incumbent prime minister and technocrat Mario Monti has his own alliance, which has come a poor fourth.

Who are the liberals and where do they fit in this mosaic? There are two Italian parties in the ALDE Party (the European party to which the British Liberal Democrats also belong): Italia Dei Valori-Lista Di Pietro (Italy of Values) and Radicali Italiani (Italian Radicals). There is also another European party called the EDP (European Democratic Party), which is part of the ALDE bloc in the European Parliament, and it has an Italian member party called Alleanza per l’Italia (Alliance for Italy), as well as some independent Italian MEPs. Then there is the Partito Repubblicano Italiano (Italian Republican Party), which left the ELDR group (the precursor of ALDE) in 2010, having been reduced to an insignificant rump anyway. And there is the Partito Liberale Italiano (Italian Liberal Party), which was re-founded in 2004.

I know, this is starting to sound like the People’s Front of Judea. And if you think that the various liberal parties fought together on the same electoral list, you obviously don’t know Italian politics.
  • Italia Dei Valori-Lista Di Pietro has split into various factions but most seem to have wound up together as part of a left-wing coalition called Rivoluzione Civile (Civil Revolution).
  • Radicali Italiani fought the election on a stand-alone electoral list called Giustizia, amnistia e libertà (Amnesty, Justice and Freedom).
  • Alleanza per l’Italia has, for the most part, fought as part of the centre-left alliance Bene Comune.
  • Partito Repubblicano Italiano contested the election alone.
  • Partito Liberale Italiano (or rather, individuals from the party as opposed to the party as a whole) fought the election as part of Mario Monti’s alliance.
Another Great Liberal Victory is assured, then.

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