by de Gondi
Tue Mar 9th, 2010 at 01:43:47 AM EST
The political situation in Italy continues to be critical. Despite his talking points repeated ad nauseam, Berlusconi's decree has caused a backlash against his personal political entity, the PdL, throughout Italy. It is perceived as a measure to save his party- and only his party- in key electoral contests in Lombardy and Rome, while other parties had been excluded already on similar grounds both in the past and in the present regional elections. Moreover, the general public is accustomed to paying heavy fines for personal errors and late payments to local and national agencies. It is no wonder that Berlusconi's party has plummeted in the polls 17 points to an all time low. The PdL party strategists estimate that at best they may win only five regions.
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The decree has galvanized the various oppositions. There have been hostile demonstrations all over Italy since the decree was signed into law late Friday. Legal initiatives have been taken on both sides in what has become an electoral lists war. But the regional administrative justice in Lombardy did not admit the decree in their favourable decision to readmit the eternal governor Formigoni for his fourth run for office. On the contrary, in Lazio the judiciary declared that the decree could not supplant regional law and ruled against the PdL lists in the city and province of Rome. The judges ruled that the PdL had presented incomplete documentation past the deadline and were therefore to be excluded.
It is hardly the end of the story. Other regions and various parties are meditating on taking the decree to court on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Piedmont and Tuscany have already announced they will take action. But a legal battle will go on long after the elections with the risk that the elections be declared null by the constitutional court in at least the two regions.
Many citizens, well versed in the national art of dietrologia (the conviction that there is something hidden behind the events), believe that Berlusconi pushed the decree through to create the possibility that the elections could be nullified in the case he loses by a landslide. It appears more likely that Berlusconi reverts habitually to the inflammatory mode when in a difficult situation. According to Bruno Vespa, a TV reporter close to Berlusconi, he had menaced the President of the Republic Napolitano last Thursday in what Vespa characterizes as tantamount to the assassination of the Archduke at Sarajevo. Napolitano duly signed the decree. His actions and justifications have sharply polarized opinion. His reasons appear arbitrary, since the decree applies to but one party as if all the other parties excluded over the years were in the B series. Perhaps it would have been better had he not sought to justify himself. His remark today that a respectable democracy does not need courageous acts is unfortunate.
The corruption scandals continue to take their toll on Berlusconi's popularity. His closest advisors are under investigation and daily revelations of their conversations depict a sordid gelatinous clique of thieves, as they jokingly define themselves. A single exchange was enough to throw off Berlusconi's ill-conceived plans to put Civil Protection above and beyond accountability: As the earthquake hit Aquila, the clique was laughing with joy at how much they would cash in on the upcoming reconstruction racket. Bertolaso was calling numbers within hours. Berlusconi hasn't dared to return to his week-end jaunts in Aquila since. For the past four weeks, the citizens of Aquila have broken through police barriers with wheel barrels to cart away the rubble left a year in the centre of the city. Berlusconi's exalted idea was to build 19 satellite towns outside the city and flooded the news with his Truman Show crackerjack houses replete with megaplasma screens. The people of Aquila want their city back.
The local RAI station has protested against the false coverage in the national news. Their reportage is systematically trashed wherever it contradicts the Berlusconi fairy tale. Although Berlusconi has abolished in depth news programs until after the elections, people are getting the story. Certainly Berlusconi continues to be inventive. On Sunday he interrupted one of the country's most popular sports programs to broadcast a political speech. A captured audience with other matters on their minds- delaying a report on Palermo's victory may not have pleased spectators.