Berlusconi seizes the initiative by enlarging his Italian alliance

Two months away from a general election forced on the country by the collapse of Romano Prodi's unwieldy coalition, the left and right in Italy were doing their best yesterday to make a virtue of necessity and bring some coherence to a fragmented political scene in chaos.

The former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi seized the headlines with the announcement that he and the post-Fascist National Alliance party would be trading under the single name of Il Popolo della Liberta – the People of Freedom. One of the many floating fragments of the former Christian Democrat party may also come aboard. It marked a new attempt by Italy's richest and most charismatic politician to forge a disciplined electoral force. He has been appealing for allies to join him in "a single unified party" for years. As soon as a general election appeared inevitable, the right hastily buried its differences.

During the five years of Mr Berlusconi's last government, from 2001 to 2006, the components of the centre-right coalition bickered heatedly but not in the murderous manner of the nine separate components of Mr Prodi's coalition. And once again they have decided that they will do what it takes to cohabit, in the interests of victory.

Umberto Bossi, the leader of the Northern League, dined with Mr Berlusconi last night and is expected to opt for a looser connection to the new grouping. The centre-right heads towards the election with a solid lead in the opinion polls of 10 to 15 per cent.

But analysts said the right's grouping had been forced on them by the decision of the big new player on the centre-left, the Democratic Party, to stand in the election alone. Yesterday the two most important Italian newspapers, Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica, hailed the stance taken by Walter Veltroni, the party's leader and outgoing mayor of Rome.

The general election was "providential", said Corriere della Sera, because it had enabled Italy's centre-left finally to break away from the communists and had forced political leaders to confront the galloping fragmentation of parties.

In the absence of a much-desired new electoral law, that would make it harder for pipsqueak parties to break into parliament; consolidation can only happen on the initiative of leaders such as Messrs Berlusconi and Veltroni.

The manoeuvres leave unanswered the question of what these new formations will commit themselves to doing if they make it into government.

Post-mortems on Mr Prodi's lately expired coalition have focused on the flaccid manifesto the "Union" – as the coalition was optimistically named – produced before the election of 2006.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border