Monday, April 03, 2006

strange bedfellows

Elections are in about a week and we are all anxiously awaiting -- for a confirmation of the pessimists' messages of doom or for a celebration of victory.

Explaining the national political scene is far too difficult; I'll content myself with identifying the major players and political parties in the running (sorry for the formatting, it just won't cooperate):

1. As Premier, Berlusconi is challenged by Prodi.
2. The parties behind Berlusconi are:

Forza Italia -- Berlusconi's own cult of personality. Translates, "Go Italy!"
Alleanza Nazionale -- conservatives
UDC -- Catholic centrist
Democrati Cristiani - Nuovo PSI -- a monstrous offspring of the collapse of the republic in 1992, the Christian Democrats and the Italian Socialist Party were the strongest parties for decades, until their profound corruption brought down the entire existing party system. Today the hangers-on who are not in jail or exile are in this party. Old pals of Berlusconi, his involvement with them led to criminal investigations, now unprosecutable.
Lega Nord and Autonomist Movement-- Northern far-right xenophobes and Southern autonomists. The Lega claims an invented Celtic history to justify Northern secessionist aspirations. They've toned down their original racist rhetoric about the South in a weird alliance with Sicilian autonomists
No Euro -- these guys believe Berlusconi's claim that the Italian economy is going down the toilet because of the Euro. Weird how only Italy has this problem then.
Riformatori Liberale -- rightist libertarians
Alternativa Sociale -- Alessandra Mussolini's 'alternative'. Despite her bottle-blondness, she bears an uncanny resemblance to her grandfather. Her politics too: nationalist, neo-fascist, and otherwise farther right than the right.
Fiamma Tricolore -- unapologetically fascist

3. For Prodi, on the center left are:

L'Ulivo: in itself a coalition of:
Democratici di Sinistra -- social democrats, the right-wing of the former Italian communist party, which had a quick makeover in 1991 to become the DS and the Rifondazione Communista (the left-wing of the PCI)
La Margherita -- 'The Daisy' is vaguely center-leftist, home to former Christian Democrats, PCI, Greens
Repubblicani Europei -- teeny party of center leftists
Rosa nel pugno -- 'rose in the fist' is not, as it may at first sound, menacing. The secular social democrats / socialist-libertarians are largely pro-US, with a domestic policy based on Zapatero. Italian Zapatistas? Hands down, they have the coolest logo.
Rifondazione Comunista -- ex-PCI without renouncing the 'comunista' part. Eurocomunist and anti-globalization.
Partito dei Comunisti Italiani -- Eurocommunists who split with the rifondazione in 1998 over the rifondazione's votes bringing down Prodi's government.
Federazione Verdi -- the greens: environmentalists, consumer advocates, and pacifists
Italia dei Valori -- 'Italy of values' is moderately leftist, anti-corruption
i Socialisti -- social democrats, broke with the new socialists, who are in Berlusconi's coalition.
UDEUR -- a little populist party with 1 MP
Partito Pensionati -- centrist, single-issue: defence of retirement plans

Will Prodi's Unione turn out enough votes to topple smug hair-plugged Berlusconi? We'll see soon enough...


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