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Italian Elections 2008- Introduction

by de Gondi Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 06:17:47 AM EST

Local and regional elections will be held in Italy on April 13th and 14th. Voters will also have the opportunity to approve 90% of national deputies and senators for the next legislature, all formally chosen by parties on March 10th according to criteria that vary from party to party. The remaining 10% will be chosen by the parties from the March 10th "blocked lists" based on party share ranking.

Due to the arcana of the current electoral law it is difficult to make previsions on the composition of the two Houses. According to "voter" simulations, 30 votes dispersed in key localities can decide the outcome regardless of the gross approval rating of the four main political coalitions. More realistic scenarios based on recent polls offer four possibilities, none of which give a center-left majority.

Promoted by DoDo


It is most likely that the Berlusconi coalition will carry the day. While the present law will give him a comfortable majority in the House of Deputies, the Senate may once again depend on a majority of no more than three Senators in the best of cases. The coalition with the relative majority will be forced to form an alliance with the centrist party, the Union of Democrat Christians, a prospect not at all improbable given that the UDC just broke away from the Berlusconi coalition. While Berlusconi will have no problems with his Senators- chosen exclusively on the basis of top down abject servilism- he will be forced to make concessions to the UDC which may not go down too well with the other major parties in his coalition: Allianza Nazionale, the racist Lega Nord and the Sicilian MPA (Movimento per l'Autonomia). Any other arrangement, such as a Gross Koalition between Veltroni's Democratic Party and Berlusconi's personal political entity, is out of the question. Whatever the prospects in the immediate future, the right wing is seen to gain. Their position remains that either they rule or there is chaos.

Here's some background in an attempt to make things clearer.

A Brief History

In 2000 Berlusconi won the general elections with a large parliamentary majority. Although it brought political stability, the rightwing coalition quickly showed its shortcomings, mostly due to the incapacity of the coalition to effectively administrate and serve the state and its remarkable subservience to the personal interests and obsessions of its leader. In the five years of the XIV (2001-2006) legislature the opposition center-left coalition won all partial elections culminating in the unprecedented regional landslide in 2005. It was unlikely that the rightwing coalition could win against the electoral machine put together by the opposition in the 2006 national elections.

In the winter of 2005, the rightwing passed an 11th hour electoral reform designed to break the opposition's electoral strategy. The law (270/2005) further curtailed popular sovereignty by eliminating voter preference for candidates. Senators and Deputies would be designated by the parties prior to the election in what are known as "blocked lists."  The higher in each list, the more likely a "candidate" would be appointed to parliament. Voters were left to decide among party coalitions, their vote indirectly contributing to post-electoral list engineering. In effect, the lists were only blocked for voters. Once over with the electoral ritual, the parties were free to manipulate the candidate lists.

Further, past electoral laws limited the possibility of a candidate to present himself in no more than three districts. The guiding ideology behind the new law abolished this limit. Everyone could be elected everywhere, Berlusconi above all, giving way to the phenomena of "pluri-candidates" and the "pluri-elected." In the end 38 pluri-elected candidates controlled 40% of the House's 617 seats while 20% of the Senate was in the hands of the pluri-elected. The 50 seats of three minor parties of the Prodi coalition were won by only five pluri-elected candidates.

In effect a Member of Parliament has no real territorial constituency to answer to, only the party that chose him. No need to go out and press flesh. Rather ironic since a "candidate's" allowed spending limit was raised from the 1993 € 90,000 to € 1,400,000 with no obligation to name contributors of less than € 20,000 (a far cry from the USA's $ 200).  In essence the electoral law further codified political unaccountability after the rash of self-referential laws that virtually granted impunity for many white collar crimes and made it difficult, if not futile, to pursue elite criminal activity. It's no wonder politicians are perceived as a caste.

With the electoral law in the air, the center-left coalition had to change its winning strategy. It was thus forced to negotiate unfavourable conditions with minor parties. The final result was a lame bi-polarism combined with political fragmentation, aptly called nanismo (although gigantismo would also be appropriate) because each coalition contained opportunistic mini-parties by necessity in order to compete against the other coalition. This was further aggravated by pre-electoral contracts that bound the major coalition party, l'Ulivo, to cede their own seats to mini-parties with no electoral base to speak of with the inevitable consequences. Minor parties were over-represented within the coalition. Even those parties that had not made it over the 2% threshold had managed to bargain a role in the future government (Mastella's Udeur the most notorious). The Prodi government had the largest number of ministers and undersecretaries in Republican history. It was plagued by infighting and petty protagonism.  The priorities of the far left were regularly sabotaged or vetoed by the center parties. It quickly became apparent that the conservative wing of the Prodi government posed the greatest threat to the integrity of the government. It was the only group that could pass over to the opposition. Which is effectively what happened.

Mastella lead the dances by pulling out of the coalition shortly after his resignation as Minister of Justice. However his votes were not enough to bring down the Prodi government. The coup de grace was dealt by Lamberto Dini and his improvised "liberal democrat" party. Mastella has temporarily retired from politics after being shunned by all parties (with the exception of Boselli's micro-Socialist entity). Just as convicts receive a pittance to reinsert themselves in society after serving time, Mastella will receive € 300,000 from the state to reinsert himself in civilian society. He recently declared that he should have thought it over ten times before voting against the Prodi government.

Dini was promptly paid the € 400,000 "to fund his party" just as the November 2007 investigation into Berlusconi's attempt to bribe Senators had revealed (here, here and here). Senator De Gregorio is currently under investigation for a sum of € 700,000 also paid "to fund his party," as well as separate allegations of recycling money for the camorra. De Gregorio asserts that he represents "gli italiani nel mondo," a fairly insulting proposition.  Dini, De Gregorio and their kind have been consigned to the House of Deputies by Berlusconi as a cautionary measure. Given their precedents Berlusconi would never trust them in the Senate.

It is a fitting conclusion for Dini's career. Viciously and obsessively smeared by the Berlusconi government throughout the XIV legislature as taking kickbacks in the non-existant Telekom Serbija scandal, Dini has finally relented and returned to the Berlusconi fold, only to be thrown into a basement corner like a broken toy. Just as in the great Stalinist trials he now need only confess his crimes for the glory of berlusconismo and a radiant future for mankind. After all he's immune.

In our next episode we will see how the 2008 elections shaped up, coming soon at your favourite neighbourhood website.

Display:
And for this we had mani pulite?

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 28th, 2008 at 05:47:26 PM EST
It's far worse today.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Mar 28th, 2008 at 08:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I meant. Makes you want to go back to the 1980's.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 29th, 2008 at 07:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really... those were the days of the infamous CAF, the triumvirate of Craxi, Andreotti and Forlani. At the least now we have tomorrow.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Mar 29th, 2008 at 08:11:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Hard to believe that the Italians could let Berlusconi get into power again, but then a lot of Italian history (as elsewhere) is hard to believe. In the process of writing a diary about a recent trip to Bologna I looked into the background of the bombing of the train station in 1980 - if this was fiction one would say it was too obviously exaggerated;

During investigations into a banking scandal police searched the home of Licio Gelli. Gelli had fought for Mussolini's reborn Roman Empire in Spain, Yugoslavia and Albania and when Italian Fascism crumbled he joined the Nazi S.S. . After the war Gelli worked on the 'Ratlines' - the Vatican and C.I.A. sponsored escape routes for Nazi fugitives. Later he dealt arms in Latin America and reputedly became the linkman between the C.I.A. and Juan Peron the Argentine dictator. Searching his home, the police came across a list of over six hundred names and evidence linking them to a Freemason group called Propaganda-2 or P-2. Now freemasonry or any other oath-bound secret society is illegal in Catholic Italy, but of course totally unremarkable as this would be but for the membership of P-2. P-2 recruited from the "elite" of Italian society. It included within it's ranks one hundred and ninety five military officers, two serving Ministers, three ex-Ministers, one Party Secretary, sixteen Magistrates, four hundred and twenty two State officials, thirty six M.P.'s as well as Secret Service heads and various bankers and capitalists (see footnote 1). Magistrates investigating the Bologna bombing found that P-2 directed much of the Fascist violence and associated cover-ups and distortion. Gelli was P-2's 'venerable master' (that's leader to us mere mortals) and in 1986 he stood trial for his part in the 1980 Bologna bombing and was acquitted but found guilty of perjury. On the fourth of August 1974 a train bombing near Bologna killed twelve and injured forty-eight. A 1983 trial judgement on this atrocity found :

    "In the opinion of the parties claiming damages, the accused members of 'Ordine Nuovo' (New Order) were inspired, armed and financed to carry out the attack by the Masonic movement, which took advantage of right-wing subversives and terrorists, within the context of the so-called 'strategy of tension' in an attempt to halt the country's gradual drift to the left and set up the basis for a future coup d'etat" (4)

This was the P-2's plan, by means of terror in the style of agent provocateur promote a law and order agenda and provide a pretext for a clampdown on dissent and worker's struggle, if necessary a coup d'etat would be part of this. However given that P- 2 constituted a 'State within the State', a coup would be the option of last resort and would happen if for instance the Communist party entered a coalition government. Another organisation in the murky shadows of Italy's secret state shared the same ends and means as P-2. It however was official, if covert, it was called 'Gladio' (sword). Gladio was set up in 1958 by S.I.F.O.R. (Italian secret service, later replaced because it was suspected of involvement in a 1964 coup plot) and the C.I.A. . It's 15,000 members were recruited from W.W. 2 veterans groups and had access to 151 secret arms dumps. The purpose of Gladio was, (it was apparently disbanded in 1990, but then it didn't officially exist until then) we are told, to act as a resistance group in the event of a 'Warsaw pact invasion', a 'Soviet takeover'. Why any Russians would want to take over the radiation desert Italy would have become after a nuclear war, which would have been the result of any Warsaw pact invasion of Italy or any other N.A.T.O. sate is beyond me. In fact by the time it would have taken for 'Soviet' tanks to have reached Italy there would have been no more Pentagon or Kremlin to give orders. Secret Gladio documents made public in 1990 tell a different story, they tell of the danger of 'internal subversion' i.e. the working class. According to General Gerardo Serravalle, commander of Gladio during the 1970's, it was concerned with:

    "Internal control, that is our level of readiness to counter street demonstrations, handling nationwide strikes and any internal uprising"

and Gladio's role was to:

    "Fill the streets, creating a situation of such tension as to require military intervention"(5)

[the Berlusconi connection]

"some Fascists in the group of terrorists in question worked for the Carbinieri (a police unit) , that others had contact with the army or the police and that they received valuable and timely information in the progress of investigation into their activities"(1)
-From the report of an Italian parliamentary committee of inquiry.

Footnote 1: including Silvio Berlusconi , later to be Italian Prime Minister . Berlusconi was head of Group 17 &endash; P2's media section tasked with influencing public opinion and with P-2's help moved into the television business , his companies now dominate the Italian media and have been instrumental in his election success in a coalition with the 'National Alliance' a split from the old Fascist part . The Media in Italy continues to link the modern radical left with the 'days of lead', with i.e. the terrorism of the 70ies. No comment necessary.

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/freeearth/fe3_italy.html



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Mar 28th, 2008 at 06:34:46 PM EST
The Bologna Train Station Bombing occurred on August 2, 1980. 85 people died and over 200 were injured. It is still covered by state secrecy. The revolutionary fascists, Giusva Fioravanti, Francesca Mambro and others, were condemned for the crime. They are now in semi-liberty. Shortly before a plane flying from Bologna to Palermo was shot down over Ustica, killing all passengers. It too remains a mystery. Gelli had been extradited to Italy by the Swiss on several charges. Extradition was not granted for charges directly related to the massacre. Francesco Pazienza and the P2 heads of the SISMI were charged and condemned for planting false evidence (bombs no less) and misleading investigators. Pazienza was an enterprising and charming homme d'action chiefly known to Americans for having produced the Billygate documents, which cinched Reagan's election, together with Mike Ledeen. According to Pazienza it was an action that involved the CSIS, Bush père's favorite policy tank.

Gelli's famous first list contained 962 names. Another list as well as an address book eventually surfaced. The address book was more important in that it contained his frequent contacts. Gelli did not fight in Spain. His brother did- and died there.

Of the four founders of the personal political entity, Forza Italia, two were linked to the P2. The inventor of the party, Marcello Dell'Utri, is presently waiting appeal for collusion with the mafia. Berlusconi has steadfastly sought to implement Gelli's plan for a "democratic renaissance," which is more a blueprint for totalitarian democracy.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Mar 28th, 2008 at 08:29:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Licio Gelli did effectively fight in Spain. He joined his brother at the age of 16. His brother, Raffaello, was killed in 1938 in Catalogna.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Mar 28th, 2008 at 08:53:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scary.  Italy a democracy? Did WW2 change nothing? It seems to have more wheels within wheels than the Vatican.  How do we stop this contaminating the whole of the EU?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 29th, 2008 at 08:07:48 AM EST
Democracy is a very broad term that can also include authoritarian rule. Democracy alone does not exclude despotism. That's why there are checks and balances by seperate powers- which are not necessarily elective.

If Berlusconi wins again the only effective seperate power left will by the judiciary branch- and some of the written press.

He will control the media, the legislative and executive branches, and have, as Mussolini, a strong ally in Ratzinger's Vatican. The only power beyond his control are the European institutions against which he fought throughout his past tenure. They are however very slow and the eventual costs would be defracted onto the state rather than on to his government.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Mar 29th, 2008 at 08:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So what drives Berlusconi - he's already a Billionaire and doe not seem to be a religious nut.  Is it pure lust for power?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 29th, 2008 at 09:01:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In 1993 there were two urgent reasons: bankruptcy and beating the rap. The first was quickly taken care of. The second is a constant problem since he can't kick the habit of committing crime.

Now that he's developed a taste for politics, he wants glory. Apparently massive groveling by his fans isn't enough.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Mar 29th, 2008 at 04:14:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes.

the man is possessed of an overweening vanity, the degree of which has rarely been seen on any world stage in history.

thugs don't get oilier, iow-

makes blair look like a saint in comparison.

think bad frank sinatra clone coupled with messianic/patriotic streak and a horrible knack of understanding perfectly how to push the button marked 'soccer' and 'girls' till the drooling rats wear out their desire.

he embodies all that is most reprehensible in the italian national character, in spades, just as bush does for america.

he adores the sound of his own voice and has his pick of the channels to deliver his message, over and over, till the sheep buy the brand from subliminal programming, by dint of merciless amounts of repetition.

he appears everywhere, anywhere, they will host him, and talks a blue streak, rich with self-congratulatory hype and swatches of statistics that baffle the public into thinking he is a capable leader, when really he is a fascist gasbag.

starting his last term, he was already the 5th richest man in the world. after his regnum, he had tripled his fortune, so count him in as one who definitely knows a lot about buttering both sides of the bread.
his political power would be far greater, were he not afflicted with a severe case of gucci-in-mouth syndrome, which pops up regularly enough to occasionally stall his climb further up the greasy pole of italian politics.

fortunately, the much slyer and more dangerous fascist, gianfranco fini, has zero charisma and a lesser gift of gab. he does not act like a  buffoon, so cannot be so easily ridiculed.

berlusconi is a glamour god to millions of myopic women of 60+, who unfortunately vote.

berlusconi looks like he just climbed out of a vat of vaseline, and if italy revotes him in, it will reduces italy's image worldwide to a that of a banana republic enthralled by a cartoon villain.

....and a deeply masochistic country, morally torn apart by its own contradictions. when the nation's best political hope is represented by an over-the-top comedian, you know how deep the cacca can get.

 hey, no place is perfect, right?

looking forward to more insights, de gondi, please keep them coming!

mozzarella anyone?

'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 Sun Mar 30th, 2008 at 05:29:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Oozing charm at every pore, he oiled his way around the floor--"

"My fair Lady"--Lerner and Loewe, lyrics for "Zoltan Karpathy"'- an oily Hungarian Grammarian who may be distantly related to Berlusconi, who was a great sleaze artist-  

My God, deGondi, melo-

I may have to revise my standards for editing out the impossible conspiracy theories--Italian politics proves that anything is possible.
In truth, One does not laugh. Though I live in France, if I were to tote up the places on earth that lift my heart and stir my soul, Italy has more than it's share. It's current state is sad.
I am struck by the P2 tactical position that sufficient penetration of the political system obviates the need for an overt coup--a position that I have maintained for a long time applies  as well to The US. My diary, "The Quiet Coup", seemed a bit extreme to some--then. They should read this diary and comments.

I think that Pelosi and Wright are deeply reluctant to push the Busheads very far, fearing to alter that same equation enough to require an overt, lead-based move.
I see a delicate wire act- too subservient, and they'll total the ship of state: Too overtly, successfully resistant, and it turns violent at home, as well as in the provinces.

Is there no force, political or social that effectively opposes--
Oh, yeah. Beppo.
Beats nothing.

As of late I feel I have had little to contribute to the discussion. Thanks, deGondi and melo.    

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

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Mar 30th, 2008 at 01:41:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Found this on Beppe Grillo's blog.
Man has an eye for thought-

"We will never find a purpose for our nation nor for our personal satisfaction in the mere search for economic well-being, in endlessly amassing terrestrial goods.
We cannot measure the national spirit on the basis of the Dow-Jones, nor can we measure the achievements of our country on the basis of the gross domestic product (GDP)
Our gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile."

Guess who said this?

Can we clone this guy?

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

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Mar 30th, 2008 at 02:41:51 PM EST
RFK.

Never were truer words spoken.

'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 Sun Mar 30th, 2008 at 09:06:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
His loss to the future was a greater loss than that of his brother.
I remember the fear he generated in the 1%-ers- he was the banker's antichrist, the nemesis of the dreamers after a wider empire. At the head of the list of entities that viewed him with startled outrage was the CIA-

Interesting how these things reemerge with new evidence--gives one hope.
For those who haven't run across this poorly reported recent blockbuster, a reporter's tape recording has been found  showing 13 shots, and he was killed from behind--Sirhan was in front.
A couple years ago good evidence emerged that a small flock of CIA hirelings- the Cuban hit squad- were present at the time of his murder. No other link has been proven.

OK- the faint scent of hope.

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

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 03:59:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I learn more here with de gondi than with any analysis I can find about italy anywhere here in Spain or outside Italy.

Just saying.

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 Sun Mar 30th, 2008 at 04:21:49 PM EST
I look forward to seeing you team up again on the Italian election thread on the 13th.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 10:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Voters will also have the opportunity to approve 90% of national deputies and senators for the next legislature, all formally chosen by parties on March 10th according to criteria that vary from party to party. The remaining 10% will be chosen by the parties from the March 10th "blocked lists" based on party share ranking.

After consulting an Italian dictionary, I changed "ratify" to "approve", but I'm still not sure I understand it. So do Italians have two votes, one for a nominal local candidate (who can in practice be a pluri-candidate?) and a regional or national party list? With 90% of MPs nominally coming from the first vote, but in practice, due to the pluri-candidates, much more?

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

by DoDo on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 06:21:53 AM EST
My use of "ratify" is ironic. It implies that a voter has no choice to vote but only to ratify a choice made by someone else. Further, a voter with his vote, authorizes that "someone else" to do whatever he wants with the voter's vote after the election.

For national elections, a voter has only one vote for each branch of parliament. You put a cross on a coalition symbol.

Basically, for the national elections, each coalition prepares and blocks a list of candidates in a rigorous hierarchy of preferences for each region. Of course many of these candidates may reflect local and regional preferences as part of the electoral offer. Other candidates will be in the regional lists because of their national prominence and vote catalyzing power. (Then there are plenty of other considerations that have little to do with political contests). For example, imagine a coalition is likely to win 55% of a particular region which translates into 16 seats. The coalition need only put the 16 people it wants elected at the top of the list. Since the coalition needs jollies to redistribute seats for chums on a national level there are certain candidates who are on all or most of the lists throughout the nation.

Once the elections are over and proportions have been assigned in each region, this reservoir of "pluri-elected" jollies are translated into individual seats according to each coalition's criteria. In the end, an MP owes his seat to centralized party bargaining rather than to the electorate.

 

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 10:46:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So that remaining 10% is bonus seats? Or another irony?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 12:05:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 10% is a catch all for the loopholes in the law that allow coalitions to fish up or eliminate a candidate. By displacing (a) pluri-elected candidate(s) around the national checkerboard any number of scenarios can be created in order to recuperate a loser or borderline case. So once the tally is in, each coalition pulls out their shopping lists of who they really want in and don't want in other than those who have already been assured a seat. As in the example above, imagine that the coalition wants to recover number 17 or conversely prevent number 16 from being assigned a seat. By jostling the pluri-elected around from one region to another either scenario is possible. It is actually more than ten percent in the House but again it depends entirely on party bargaining within each coalition. Popular mandate has no role in determining who will be nominated MP.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 01:32:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are there similar systems elsewhere in Europe or the world where popular sovereignty is shortcircuited?
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 01:34:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For me, pluri-selected candidates sound a unique aberration. Some other elements of why the Italian election system works as bad as it does exist elesewhere, though not necessarily as a problem.

Lots of small parties allowed by a lack of a 5% limit can be a problem (Poland) or not (Netherlands, some Scandinavians, New Zealand?). Pre-lection coalitions are limited in various ways in most proportional-voting countries, e.g. a higher percentage threshold or you must form an actual party union. But that big loose pre-election coalitions of a lot of smaller parties can, and for power must, be formed may happen elsewhere (France, at one point in Slovakia, in a way Spain), but the trend (and pressure) seems to be strongest in Italy, only I am not sure what makes a difference. Two political blocks (be them big tent parties like in the US or coalitions like you have) are usually the result of winner-takes-all, not proportinal elements of election systems (e.g. when there is some extra gain in becoming the biggest party/coalition), the need to bring in splitter parties to gain majority doesn't require more than the formation of smaller pre-election coalitions (miriad of examples across the new EU members).

Assured seats on party lists is a standard feature of proportional voting (of which I am an advocate), and one often held against it. But this is counteracted elsewhere when there is a choice of more than two parties, and (less often) when a wide party base or voters themselves are given some say in which persons get elected (single tansferable votes from Ireland through Hamburg to Australia, parallel direct and proportional voting as in Germany, local primaries).

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

by DoDo on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 02:24:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the need to bring in splitter parties to gain majority doesn't require more than the formation of smaller pre-election coalitions (miriad of examples across the new EU members).

I realise the current Hungarian parliament exhibits an example that can be (and many did) consider a short-circuiting of democracy. In the last elections, the main opposition party Fidesz actually ran as one element of a pre-election coalition, with the Christian Democrats. By the 21st century, the latter became a micro-party with unmeasurable (<1%) popular support, but for whatever propaganda and split-percentage reason Fidesz thought they need them, thus giving them a lot of both list places and direct mandate candidacies. Once in parliament, the Fidesz-piggybacking Christian Democrats were so numerous they had the numbers to form a faction, and local laws permit the separation of election coalitions. Due to extra seats in parliamentary commissions, that's what they did.

The differences with the voes of the Italian Left are that (1) right-wing voters never had much trouble with any candidate endorsed by their voters, anywhere in the world, (2) at least in the open, these spineless Christian Democrats are über-loyal to Fidesz, they don't backmail like UDEUR et al (though who knows, maybe there's more to Fidesz's occasional clericalism than propaganda considerations).

*

A stranger example of proportional voting not reflecting people's real choices, but that wil full cooperation of the voter, is when voters of a larger party 'save' a minor coalition partner from falling under 5%, to keep coalition majority. This was a frequent feature with CDU (Christian Democrat) voters and the FDP (FRee Democrat) party in Germany, and also happened here (with Socialists saving the local Free Democrats), but I don't know of any other countries.

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

by DoDo on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 02:43:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the helpful feedback on this. I'll discuss tomorrow some of the mechanisms in Italy that I see appear elsewhere as well as what may be unique in the Italian system.

One point you've mentioned

[...](1) right-wing voters never had much trouble with any candidate endorsed by their voters, anywhere in the world, [...]

is of particular interest (I think you meant endorsed by their party). The differences in mentality between the right and the left.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 04:12:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Before 2005, a voter could express preferences for single candidates in either a proportional system ( before 1993) or the mixed majority- proportional system (1993-2005). A candidate had to work the tarmack and meet citizens. As of 2005, a voter has a choice between two names, the rest is handled in the backrooms.

Since the new system has only been used once, the agreements between parties within a coalition are mediated by showings in previous elections. However, were this system to continue over several elections one wonders what sort of criteria would be used to determine the relation of forces within a coalition.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 04:22:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Assured seats on party lists is a standard feature of proportional voting (of which I am an advocate), and one often held against it.

Finland has proportional voting but then seats are distributed on basis of personal preference voting (mark your prefered candidate, an the most prefered gets your lists first seat). Sweden has the same, but to a much lesser extent as  candidates has to pass a significant threshold to change position on the list, leaving power mostly in the hands of the party establishments.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 05:01:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have finished the follow up to this diary, "Italian Elections 2008- Coalitions and Parties." When should I put it up so as not to crowd out the discussion here?
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 10:51:36 AM EST
Methinks tomorrow, and I promote it tomorrow or after-tomorrow.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 at 12:06:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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