Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Regional and Administrative Election Results in Italy**

by de Gondi Thu Jun 1st, 2006 at 04:00:29 AM EST

Results of provincial and administrative votes held throughout Italy this weekend indicate a solid victory of the center-left coalition. Of the eight provinces up for elections the center-left widened their previous margins of victory in the four provinces they governed and won over Reggio Calabria by a 58,6% win. In the three provinces that remained in the hands of the right-wing the margins of victory were greatly reduced, just barely keeping Pavia with 50,3%. Imperia is the only province where the rightwing results remained unvaried.
In mayoral elections the center-left has won by substantial margins in all major cities except Milan where the ex-Minister of Education, Letizia Moratti, is wining by 52%.

**From the front page

The center-left candidate for mayor of Naples Rosa Russo Iervolino is holding a margin of 56,8%. She has announced she has gathered further proof of voter fraud by the Camorra and intends to take evidence to the Procura in the next days.

Regional elections were also held in the autonomous Sicilian Region where the rightwing coalition confirmed its death hold on civil society. Final results for the Sicilian presidency give Kissy-kiss Cuffaro at 53,1% against Rita Borsellino's 42,2%. In the previous presidential elections Cuffaro garnered 59,1%. Cuffaro's scandal racked administration that saw his closest collaborators arrested for association with the mafia has been ostracised by the international community for the past year. With the exception of certain parlours in New York City, Cuffaro is avoided by local authorities abroad. To ad-lib The Economist, Cuffaro is unfit to govern Sicily.

Last Friday an anonymous roman à clef, Il Broglio (The Fraud), was published. The thinly veiled story details how the incumbent ruler, called the Cannibal, rigged the national elections last April. Many of the possibilities for voter fraud have been reported here these past months. One of the anomalies is  the disappearance of "blank ballots" in communities governed by the rightwing or organized crime. There is a physiological level of blank ballots on the order of 6% to 8% in all national elections. This level was confirmed as a constant in April for most of the national territory except for the above mentioned communities. The city run by the Cannibal's immortal hairdresser (Catania) saw a collapse of blank ballots from a previous norm of 9000 to 1000.

The electoral law passed by the Cannibal's coalition created the conditions for this possibility by reforming electoral officials' lists and abolishing the previous norm that established that electoral officials must be representative of the voter population. The law also reduced the number of electoral officials for each section from six to four members. In other words, electoral officials could only be chosen from a list of people who had signed up in 2005 by November and they could all be from one coalition. The law was passed during the Christmas holidays. In the month of November the Cannibal's party had surreptitiously exhorted its followers to register as electoral officials.

According to the novel the president and vice-president of rightwing voter sections filled in the blank ballots overnight between the two election days, thus reducing the "blank ballot" percentage to a statistically anomalous level.

Considering that all official polls and all international betting companies gave the center-left as winning with a margin of 5% with a tendency to widen the spread, the book does raise doubts. Did the Cannibal steal the elections but not quite pull it off?

Excellent news.

Now...will there be an investigation into the attempt at vote fraud? Or, at least will there be a quick return to the old and fair voting rules?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:11:23 AM EST
There have to be judiciary facts to start an investigation. Stats don't qualify.

There is already a vote recount going on behind many rightwing charges of fraud. Authorities conducting the recount said it will take up to four or five years time to verify all the votes...

Denouncing voter fraud is a favorite with Berlusconi. In 1996 he said the left stole the elections. He even insists there is voter fraud by the evil commies when he wins.

What does remain is that his electoral law was tailor made to facilitate voter fraud by none other than himself. Seeing as he did his best to fill all the voting sections with his moonies, his charges seem topsie turvie.

I think the left is just being realistic. They won, even if by a small margin, and want to get on governing the state in this critical moment. They don't want to be bothered with charades.

Prodi has refused to couple these elections with his government despite the major win. It's too early. And there are more important things to think about.

As for other prominent left coalition political figures, they're enjoying taking the wind out of B's bad showing.

Tomorrow B will say that even these elections were rigged.

The government has promised a new national electoral law as soon as possible. It will not be a return to the old law which had many shortcomings.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 09:05:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great news...it seems burlie's balloon was taking space mostly because of the huge amounts of hot air he was blowing daily into it.

too bad about borsallino, sicily still has to hit bottom, sadly...

there's a spring breeze of change blowing through italy these days, or is it wishful thinking?

time'll tell.

at least the era of the vaseline slick vapidity-crooner, that last vestige of the 'rat pack', seems to be folding fast.

make an example of him!

thanks again for the funny, wise breakdown of news from italy, degondi.

my italian is not bad, but the prose employed in the print press is practically unchewable, and turgid even if one makes the effort.

that leaves tv!


keep murdoch out, he already has sky here, that's more than enough.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 07:41:51 AM EST
Does anyone have a link to a map showing the results?  I like seeing complicated stats boiled down to pretty pictures.  :)
by Tom DC in VA on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 07:46:20 AM EST
Here's a link at la Repubblica. Click around for results.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 08:48:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a physiological level of blank ballots on the order of 6% to 8% in all national elections.
Wow, in Spain that stands at about  1% null votes and between 1% and 2% of valid votes being blank, for a total of between 2% and 3% null or blank.

6% to 8% is only ever seen in the Basque Country when the abertzale [basque patriot] left party is banned from running and its core voters vote the ballot of the banned party. [It has happened repeatedly that an incarnation of Batasuna has been banned between the close of candidate registration and the actual election, giving Batasuna access to ballots. Many Spanish parties will mail ballots to prospective voters, and certainly to members and sympathisers.]

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 07:50:00 AM EST
Gondi for Assistant Editor for Italian Affairs of European Tribune...NOW!!

I read the news from Italy here...so....

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 08:54:39 AM EST
The work you and DoDo did on our Italian Elections Open Thread was priceless drama. Your grasp of math and stats clinched the results in real time probably before the press agencies.

Some of the events we commented on (Do you remember the stall in Palermo, the stalls in general?) have turned up in the anonymous novel as the left mobilized its people on the territory to thwart the Cannibal's attempted electoral coup. A fun read for those of us who can expect anything from "the Cannibal."

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 09:23:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you read the book or excerpts from it, or only summaries in newspapers?

If the former, I think a longer diary with summaries/translations of more details from the book would meet the interest of a lot of ET readers. (Your above hints sure incited my interest.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 11:27:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have read it over the weekend. Whoever wrote it accurately depicted the atmosphere that evening in Piazza SS. Apostoli. I was there for some time as I had said here. (Ritter advised me to have a beer at Peroni there.) There are key scenes in the headquarters that could be fact or fantasy. I remember Di Pietro running through the crowd dead serious with a shadow of anger behind his smile as supporters cheered him. He entered one of the huge vans and did not come out while I was around. The whole atmosphere became strange. In fact all the exit polls were being debunked by the results.

The novel has two stories that intertwine. The first story rotates around a right-wing private detective who wants to denounce a crime to the police. Through a serious of fortuitous circumstances he isn't able to tell his story. He grumbles about it to a reporter friend of his who doesn't think much of it. It appears he's come up with proof that the elections are going to be rigged by the right.

However, later, as events unroll in SS Apostoli and just down the street at the Cannibal's headquarters the reporter starts wondering what the detective was trying to tell him before he brushed him off. Unusual things happen. Why did the Cannibal suddenly decide to fly to Rome? Why did the main computer block for 48 minutes at the Minister of the Interior? Why did the Minister of Interior who precedes over the conduct of the elections suddenly rush off to the Cannibal's headquarters and sneak in through a back door? Now these events did actually occur.

But our reporter is upstairs in the Democrats headquarters trying to interview the skinny one with a colleague and has a spat with a functionary. The functionary blows his stack and let's on that there is an emergency. The left is sending all their men into the prefectures throughout the country. So our reporter starts calling around. He wants to get hold of the detective. Only the detective has disappeared.

At two in the morning the skinny one goes down starts and makes a laconic official statement: We have won the elections. However, the reporters ask, how does he know if the results aren't in yet?

Ritter did point out that the ex-PCI praetorian guard knew all along who was winning.

I'll treat you to Part II after dinner.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:47:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So back to our story. The reporter has got a lot of suggestive elements, leads that he's got to thrash out, but no smoking gun. At the same time he wants to find the private detective who has disappeared without a trace. He puts together all of the detective's movements and grills everyone to see if the detective had talked about the elections. But that's the fictitious part.

The other investigation tackles the doubts about the elections. The reporter lunches with an old friend in the polling business. He wants to know how all the polls, exit polls and betting companies screwed up so bad. His friend does his best to dispel his doubts. Sure, there was a 5% average difference over the months but there's always a margin of error. How was it that the rightwing polls were dead right? And what about the fact that his "Canadian" polling institute (PBS) didn't deliver the last poll? Why would the Cannibal win if over 80% of the population voted? What difference would it make? The pollster does his best to explain away the reporter's doubts.

Eventually, the reporter hits on the trick. It's the law that regulates electoral officials. He gets hold of a specialist nerd who does voting analysis and begins to grill him on voting anomalies. The guy knows all about it, as if it were a fascinating species. He starts ticking off town by town, booth by booth, the difference in the number of blank ballots. And the blank ballots tend to disappear wherever the rightwing governs. The reporter discusses it with his editor. The whole story of the blank ballots is suggestive but isn't a smoking gun. The rightwing voters were motivated to vote by the Cannibal's campaign of Armageddon and hell-fire. Like all good reporters he archives the story. If he can't find the fact, the incident, that clinches his reasoning, the story is best left to rest. And, of course, the detective is not to be found.

I've left out the sex and the detective's destiny so as not to spoil the rest for readers. I'll just say that what happens to the detective is governed by the laws of chance.

So in conclusion: How many voters sections would it take to produce a significant change in the results if each section has about 1000 voters with as average of 6% to 8% blank ballots?

How many people would have to be involved if electoral officials were reduced to four in each section with two of them in possession of the keys to the ballot boxes?

How long does it take to go through a ballot box, open a ballot and draw an "X" on the appropriate box if the ballot is blank? Multiply by fifty or sixty for each section.

Remember that numbers must be calculated on a regional basis.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 06:26:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure wish you would diary this...sure caught my interest! Anyway, this was great, thank you!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Jun 2nd, 2006 at 10:38:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hear hear!

just so gifted...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]