Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Clemente Mastella has withdrawn his support of the Prodi government this evening. He asserts that the Prodi government did not give him support after his wife was arrested on charges of bribery, fixing government contracts and corruption. Mastella resigned as Minister of Justice with an inflammatory speech in Parliament against the Judiciary branch. His party then issued a diktat to Prodi to vote a resolution of support of his hallucinatory claims. Government members acknowledged his planned discourse previously deposited at the House which illustrated the government's position on Justice but refused to accept Mastella's self-serving diatribe.

At the same time this afternoon the Church, through the head of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, attacked the government and Italian politics with unusual virulence in the wake of the papal farce over the invitation to the inauguration of the academic year.

Government members are in reunion at the moment to decide what action to take. Prodi may resign tomorrow before an inevitable defeat in the Senate.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 02:26:43 PM EST
I suppose there would be new elections? What kind of support could Prodi expect?
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 02:52:35 PM EST
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Once Prodi resigns he will exit the scene. He has repeatedly said that he has no intention of participating in politics once his government ends.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 03:27:52 PM EST
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Is there someone in the wings who can lead a non-Berlusconi-esque government?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 03:40:51 PM EST
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Walter Veltroni, mayor of Rome and Secretary General of the Democratic Party.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 03:45:54 PM EST
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btw, thanks de Gondi for bringing us the details the past week or so.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 03:03:04 PM EST
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Thanks. It does by the way distract me from smashing furniture and tearing down the front door out of sheer exasperation...
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 05:05:11 PM EST
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Prodi has scheduled a speech tomorrow at the House of Deputies to illustrate the present situation. In keeping with political custom he may then go to the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, to offer his resignation. At that point Napolitano will likely refuse and send Prodi back to the House and Senate for a confidence vote. It is likely that in the House Prodi would win a confidence vote whereas it is now certain that he would lose in the Senate.

Once he loses the Senate vote, his resignation will be accepted.

Another possibility is that a confidence vote is scheduled as soon as possible so as to formalize the end of the majority.

Following Prodi's resignation, the President of the Republic will begin consultations with all parties, prominent public figures, and previous presidents to determine the next course of action.

There are at this point two or three possibilities:

1)    An attempt to form a new government within the actual parliament by Prodi or another prominent figure. Prodi would most likely refuse.
2)    The formation of a technical transitional government with broad bipartisan support to resolve the most impelling issue, an electoral law to replace the actual "porcellum," so named in honour of the leghista Calderoli who wrote it with the specific intention to render Italy ungovernable.
3)    Anticipated elections with the actual "porcellum" law. This would likely render Italy just as ungovernable as it has been this legislature.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 03:44:15 PM EST
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Prodi has decided to go directly to the House tomorrow to deliver his previously scheduled speech on Justice. This tactic apparently means that he intends to force the situation head on and take the initiative.

It appears Prodi has no intention of going down without calling his allies and the opposition to task.

Good for him.

The planned government reunion has begun now after an hour's delay.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 03:55:57 PM EST
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The crisis is reportedly being covered online now by the BBC, le Monde and el Pais.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 03:49:32 PM EST
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The crisis has the character of the most florid of Italian operettas, and Ivonne and I can read it and laugh. But we do not lose sight of the underlying tragedy  of one of the regions in the world that we love the most.

Over the last couple years, we have read your diaries and comments with great anticipation, de Gondi. You provide a window for us, with wit and penetration. Thanks, and --is there a real likelihood that the Italian population can alter this toxic Berlusconi disease aftermath? How might this happen? Is it an impossible dream, or a real possibility?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 11:48:08 AM EST
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I tend to be grim over the prospects. My impression is that Italy's national identity is constantly a matter of contention. I'll try to explain since it concerns all nations. Successful states are the result of negotiating between the elites. Sometimes matters break down into a civil war, such as the Union vs. the Confederation, Lebanon, etc. Or a failed state. Italy has gone through several phases since the breech of Porta Pia. A strong anti-clerical phase that lasted through the Great War. The Catholic-Fascist alliance that lasted  through the Second World War. And the present Republican phase characterized by opposition between the communist and liberal heirs of the Liberation on one side, and the Church and the fascists, comforted by Cold War Atlanticism, who refuse to recognize the republic as a national identity. That's nearly 150 years of divisiveness in which politics is lived as irreconcilable oppositions. It's the politics of enemies and friends, not of political divergences under a common roof.

While a relative majority of citizens identifies with the values of the Resistance and the Liberation, large sectors of the population refuse the state, despite the fact that the Resistance acknowledged the Church's role and accepted neo-fascist parties as part of the democratic spectrum.

The present right wing in Italy is subversive. It has no intention of negotiating national identity. It would very much like to scrap the constitution and the nation-state of Italy. Berlusconi is quite simply a subversive fascist (other than corrupt) who has never honoured any of the nation's symbols or commemorations. Together with a group of populist racists, the Lega Nord, he has sought to change the Constitution to his own vision. In short Berlusconi epitomizes the ancien régime, a pre-enlightment age where people are subjects not citizens, and the elite are above and beyond the law.

There are two points that play to the nation's favour concerning Berlusconi. He is getting very old. And he is so damned self-centered that he is incapable of seeing anything beyond his prurient interests or those of his American chums. Unfortunately this casts a very bad light on Italy, hostage to a petty mobster, a greedy Church and fascist nostalgiacs. France in this respect did a hell of a lot better at the end of the war.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 05:01:34 PM EST
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There are several converging issues that led to this crisis. The main issue is the decision of the Constitutional Court, la Consulta, to admit all three referendums on the present electoral law, the "porcellum," on January 16th, after only five hours of deliberation, lunch included.

The present electoral law was so contrived by the Berlusconi government to make an upset victory by the Right in 2006 more probable. It also eliminated the voter's right to vote for a candidate instead of a party. It was in the end a plebiscite between Berlusconi and Prodi as representatives of two broad coalitions based not so much on political affinity or a common program as on opportunism and backroom bargaining. In the final analysis, individuals were appointed to the Senate and the House according to previous agreements rather than being directly elected. Senators and Deputies represent cronies, pre-electoral deals and parties, not the citizenry.

The three referendums, were they to win, would radically alter the Berlusconi electoral law. Once the Court admits a referendum it must be held within a specific time frame, in this case no later than June 15th. There are only two ways to avoid a referendum. One, by passing a  law that goes in the direction of the questions raised by the referendum. Two, by provoking a government crisis that leads to anticipated elections.

The Catho-psychotic Minister Mastella, as leader of a small party that would likely have lost power were the referendum to pass, had previously menaced the government that he would leave the coalition were the referendum to be admitted. An evident sign of incoherence and ignorance seeing as no government has control over the nation's highest court.

The Procura of Capua Vetere offered Mastella the opportunity to create a dirt-cheap alibi to bring down the government. The possibility that he may have accepted Berlusconi's generous bribe to pass on over to the opposition is presently eclipsed by the mediatic confusion.

At present it is Berlusconi's prime interest to force anticipated elections with the "porcellum" electoral law. It is also in the interest of the innumerable nano-parties who can therefore continue to wield power far beyond that conferred by popular mandate.

Anticipated elections is the worst possible scenario for Italy at the moment. A last ditch attempt by the reactionary elite to grab all they can and to hell with Italy.

Whatever, the game is not over. Tomorrow may reserve some surprises.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 05:02:45 PM EST
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While the government was in reunion this evening, Mastella held a soliloquy on "Porta a Porta" a primetime current affairs program, aired four nauseating days a week, once unjustly described as the third branch of parliament during the Berlusconi heydays. It was in fact the only branch of government at the time, hosted by the immortal groveller, Bruno Vespa.

During the program Mastella called for an act of purification through immediate elections. He justified his call for purification in the following order: because the Pope "was prevented" to speak at la Sapienza (he actually refused to speak),  because Mastella's wife was arrested, and because la Campania is smothered in garbage. Mastella further alleged that no member of the government offered him any moral support.

Bruno Vespa noted that no one on the Left had called in to "Porta a Porta" to offer a manly shoulder to poor Mastella.

At the end of the government reunion, participants declared that Prodi has chosen to present his case on Justice in parliament tomorrow and take it from there. Franco Giordano, head of the Rifondazione Comunista, remarked that decisions are to be made in parliament, not at "Porta a Porta."

Cry the beloved country.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 05:34:49 PM EST
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by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 05:49:59 PM EST
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I don´t blame you.  He´d make a good garbage collector in Naples.  Italy is a thrill a minute, but nerve-wrecking to live through these destructive games over and over.

Good that Prodi will take a strong stand tomorrow and I hope he´s indignant and calls games by their names for the public.  Maybe he is active to break the cycle, but he just seems to be too mild and blase going from crisis to crisis without improving his results.

How many Italians see through all this circus?  How many are truly outraged enough to act?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 06:38:53 PM EST
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I hope your questions are rhetorical. As for polls, approval ratings went down this week over the Papal sham.

What results? In popularity more or less the same low. In improving the general economy he has done better than expected. In all this din, no one mentions that the syndicates and the confindustria have negotiated a half decent wage hike after years of expired contracts.

What does count are the rants of irresponsible prats on both sides of the Tiber.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 06:54:53 PM EST
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