Fri Mar 1st, 2013 at 01:40:48 AM EST
One of the all-time greatest political quotations comes from the Italian novel Il Gattopardo: everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same. And the result of the Italian election indicates that the 20-year process of change initiated with Tangentopoli and Mani Pulite is coming to a close, leaving everything as it was before.
Writing in the Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau argues the case for a grand coalition in Italy, while conceding that
I am aware that almost every Italian political expert says this is not possible because of the confrontational style of politics and dozens of other reasons. I respectfully disagree. Italian parties have no experiences of a grand coalition, so much is true. Then again, the German politicians who entered grand coalitions in 1967 or 2005 did not either. Grand coalitions are certainly not a good way to govern countries over long periods because they leave radical fringe parties thriving in opposition. A grand coalition would leave Mr Grillo as the effective leader of the opposition. But grand coalitions can work well for a finite, predefined period, say for one parliamentary term.
But of course Italians are used to 'grand coalitions'. Think of the Popolo della Libertà
as the old Democrazia Cristiana
; of the Partito Democratico
as the old Partito Sozialista
; and cast the Movimento Cinque Stelle
in the anti-establishment party role of the old Partito Communista
. For 50 years the DC and PS agreed to shut the PC out of national power, though the PC was strong in local government. While disagreement on everything else and fractious personal politics ensured no PM lasted too long, the common goal of remaining on good terms with the American hegemon and defending the West™ from Communism™ allowed a 'grand coalition' and ensured parliaments served near full terms. Today, the hegemon is Germany, the old NATO is the EU, and the threat is not Communism but Grillo's version of 'Populism without racism'.
Give it some time until Berlusconi retires (maybe he will even retire now to allow for Alfano or Tremonti to join a government), and the 'change' will have been complete after 20-25 years.
Update [2013-2-27 1:56:1 by Migeru]: Here's some Celentano: