Leading Article: Italy should not forget the centre Political skills that Italy will need

Share
Related Topics
NOT LONG AGO, the theme of Italian politics appeared to be simple. A corrupt old order was to be cast out by resolute magistrates, reforming politicians and a public newly alive to the virtues of civic responsibility. A new republic would arise upon the bankrupt remnants of the old. The complex history of Italy is punctuated by such interludes of clarity - the Risorgimento, for example, or the two decades of Mussolini's rule.

But the general election next weekend is not likely to produce so clear a result. It is being fought under a system only partly reformed. It was hoped that a cabinet might take office with an outright majority and a mandate to govern. That aspiration may yet prove elusive.

Italians are asked to choose between a wide range of parties, but three groupings are clear. On the centre-right thunders Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, an electoral machine brilliantly organised by a man from Saatchi & Saatchi's Italian operation. Mr Berlusconi's tactical allies include the Northern League, which speaks for the disgruntled Milanese taxpayer, and the neo-fascists, whose heartland lies in the Mediterranean south. This is a marriage of convenience. It may not outlast polling day and contains the seeds of regional conflict that tug at the fabric of the Italian state.

The second major group clusters around the fragments of the old Communist party, now tinged a blushing hue of pink and decorated with the slogans of sensible social democracy. This alliance has its troubles, too, in the shape of a fervent group of loyal Communists unwilling to exchange Marx for Machiavelli. It is entirely in keeping with the paradoxes of post-war Italian political life, however, that the leftists, not Mr Berlusconi, have convinced financial markets that they are serious about reform of the state bureaucracy, privatisation and fiscal severity. These are the key issues for Italy.

All the more reason, then, for voters and analysts to question the role of a third faction remaining at the core of the governing system. It includes the decent figures left amid the wreckage of Christian Democracy, such as Mario Segni, and the non-political ministers who served in the transitional government of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. In the absence of an outright winner, whoever forms the next cabinet may have to do business with some of these gentlemen. That is good, for both left and right lack figures of experience in the oriental arts of Italian governance. Mr Ciampi and his team steered their country through a period of upheaval without serious instability. Their skills should not lightly be cast aside.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power