Imagine for a moment that David Cameron and Nick Clegg had agreed to form a single party before the UK General Elections last Spring. The electorate vote, a strong majority is confirmed, a government formed, the opposition take their place and all is well. But imagine also that after a while Nick gets fed up with David’s politics and ecocentric behaviour and starts to speak out publicly against the supposed “leader” and his ministers. So fed up in fact that he forms his own political faction within the umbrella party, with part of his supporters going over to Cameron and some staying faithful. A bit of a mess when you’re supposed to be in a team which is governing the country, but this is sadly the state of Italian politics today.
Months of internal wrangling between PM Berlusconi and right-wing ally Gianfranco Fini came to a head on Sunday when Fini gave a landmark speech at a party rally for the faithful at Mirabello nr. Ferrara, effectively stating his intent to put Berlusconi in his place and question his politics …or lack of it. Fini stated among other things that he could not remain within the elected “Popolo della libertà” (People of freedom) party since it was something that had already ceased to exist. He has in fact formed his own faction “Libertà e Futuro” (Freedom and Future) which he sees as the way forward.
During the summer Berlusconi, in collaboration with the third party ally Umberto Bossi (lega Nord), had put down a five point plan which he demanded Fini follow. Ok in principle says Fini but let’s do it my way..
To complicate matters further Fini is also the chairman of the House of Deputies, the third largest power in the country, and has been asked both by Bossi and the Opposition to resign from the position. Fini will have none of it however and on a live TV news programme yesterday calmly read out the articles from the Italian Constitution which effectively mean that this can never happen.
Others have cried out for early elections, a common solution to such governmental crises over the post-war years in Italy, yet Berlusconi and his disciples will not hear of it. Bossi on the other hand says there would be no problem and that there are “millions” who would gladly re-elect the whole party all over again. Confident words indeed, especially as Berlusconi dismissed the election solution as opinion polls in his favour decreased over the summer. Meanwhile a trip to see President Napolitano is now high on Berlusconi’s agenda…