Leading article: An unwelcome return

Share
Related Topics

For those who despair of the Italian political system – and they include many of the country's own citizens – Silvio Berlusconi's emergence as the apparent victor of the general election can only serve to fulfil their worst apprehensions. After barely two years in the political wilderness, the man who was widely dismissed as representative of the worst aspects of traditional Italian politics, a businessman who had used his wealth to buy up the media, his position to avoid prosecution on corruption charges and his political command to alter the electoral laws in his own favour, seems on the exit poll results at least to be coming back to power.

Not only has Berlusconi seemed, on the first indications, to have won a clear victory in the House of Deputies but also, on the early results, a decisive lead in the Senate, where his own electoral reforms have made it more difficult for any party to gain a majority. The left can gain some cheer from the perfectly respectable showing of Walter Veltroni and his Democratic Party. Indeed, the speed and energy with which the former mayor of Rome has reversed the slide in the fortunes of the left has been very creditable. On the other side, meanwhile, there is the depressing fact that Berlusconi owes much of his success to his alliance with the resurgent Northern League, who may have doubled their representation in the election. Berlusconi's closeness to a separatist ally with profoundly right-wing views is one of the most disturbing features of this vote.

In the end, the Italians seem to have given a clear mandate to Berlusconi. They may have done so partly out of disillusion with the left and the efforts of the last Prime Minister, Romano Prodi. But it may also be a sign – like their vote for the Northern League – of disillusion with the state of Italian politics.

For it is less the minutiae of the election itself that are of most concern to Italians and to Europe in general, than the failure of Italy's creaking political system to produce an effective government, or a clean one. The corruption and political stagnation which has prevented the country achieving economic development at home or weight abroad in the past two decades has become ever more apparent in the new millennium. It needs a new generation and a fresh political start, with a government prepared to tackle constitutional reform and economic change.

Berlusconi has the authority, but has he the character or the will? Based on his past performances, he is a politician of the old school, concerned primarily with his own interests and those who can help him. Perhaps he will change now. But, if not, Italy is in for another five years of regression, with the awful prospect that, if reports from those close to him are correct, he is keen to take on the presidency for another seven years after that. Perish the thought.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there