Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beware the Ides of March
Total confusion and political prostitution ahead.

Italian polls
Interested in the day after the Italian election, that is, the Ides of March 2741 years after the foundation of Rome (3/15/08 for uncultured Americans that is 15/2/08 for uncultured Europeans) ? I have found a site which collects polls

The background is that the last election was a virtual tie marginally won by the center left. Romano Prodi became prime minister for the second time. The 2nd Prodi government was brought down when Clement Mastella a prominent unprincipled turncoat traitor and epitome of Italian politics withdrew his support for Prodi because the center left did not denounce investigating magistrates for investigating his wife's corruption firmly enough. I thought he was slimy but sly. However, now he is not even running for parliament. It seems he decided to betray Prodi before reaching and agreement with Berlusconi (the sacker of Rome). Berlusconi (who had been betrayed by Mastella the last time a Prodi government was falling) decided he was more trouble than he is worth. This is the first time Berlusconi has done something I like.

To read the polls one must understand the electoral law. There are two houses of parliament the camera dei deputati (camer) and the Senato. To survive a government must maintain the confidence of both. The Camera is elected with proportional representation plus the "coalition" with the most votes gets 30 seats. Last time the center left coalition beat the center right coalition by 0.07 % and gained a solid majority in the Camera. To count a coalition must be declared before the election.
Only people over 25 can vote for Senators. They are assigned pretty much strictly proportionally. Prodi lost the confidence of the Senato.

The Senato has two very odd sets of senators. There are 6 senators elected by "Italians abroad". This does *not* mean Italian citizens who live abroad. It means people with Italian ancestors and Italian last names. Officially people with unbroken male line of descent from an Italian citizen. Last election the center left won the North American constituency only because of Canadians. This counts (Prodi only won a majority in the Senato because the center left won 4 out of 6 seats representing Italians abroad). Finally there are the senators for life. They include former Presidents of the Republic and a few eminent Italians named life senator by the President of the Republic. They give the Senato a tiny touch of the House of Lords. Out of respect for Democracy, the opposition tends to say life senators don't count when their votes are critical for the survival of a government. Out of respect for the constitution, the government accepts their votes.

Boy that was boring. Anyway it means there are two issues 1) which coalition gets the most votes and 2) which agglomeration of coalitions parties and life senators makes up a majority in the Senate.

There are two large coalitions -- the center right (pdl+lega) owned by Berlusconi and the center left (partito democratico + Antonio di Pietro). There are also two small coalitions which are critical for control of the senate. One is the Rainbow left (roughly communists + greens) who refuse to be counted with the center left coalition and thus guarantee that Berlusconi will win the plurality prize. The other is the UDC or central centrists or Resurrected Christian Democrats.

Italy still has fairly strong party loyalty (which is odd given how parties fuse and split and change names all the time). Thus polls are very stable. It is clear that the center right coalition will get the plurality of votes and the prize. They have the support of about 43% of people who respond to pollsters. The center left has about 36.5% and the objectively pro Berlusconi left deviationists have about 8 or 8.5%. That is, it would be waaaaay to close to call if the "antagonistic" left wasn't a bunch of egomaniac idiots (Berlusconi won the election of 2001 and was prime minister for 5 years, smashing the old record, because the still communists were being teste di ca**i then too).

Then the central center or UDC has about 7%. In the senate the UDC will hold the balance of power (be the "pointer of the balance"). They may go back with Berlusconi , but I think that being a junior partner to Berlusconi has been a very humiliating experience. More likely they will sell themselves to the highest bidder.

I don't like to make political predictions, but I think it is clear that after the election Italian politics will be dominated by total confusion and sordid bordellos. That is, in Italian prevedo Casini.

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