IS ITALY TELLING US SOMETHING?By CAMERON DUODUItalian politics seems unfathomable. Okay, there is hardly a nation in the world whose politics makes sense to outsiders.But something needs explaining when a man like the former prime minister, Mr Silvio Berlusconi, can continue to be relevant – and even enjoy the prospect of wielding power again –in a political system which, elsewhere, would have seen him “dead and buried” as far as public influence is concerned.For Berlusconi has been ridiculed in the sexual arena, where he has fielded innuendoes that he held orgies (or what he called “bunga bunga parties”) at which female “minors” (below the age of consent) were allegedly procured for the entertainment of himself and his “decadent” political and business friends. He has also been accused of engaging in massive corruption of other politicians. Even as one accusation seems to be dying down, another rises like a resurrecting snake to bring a ‘tut-tut’ to the lips of Italy and Europe. When will this man stop? they ask.As for me, it is poor AC Milan that I am soprry for! They have to suffer the fallout from their owner’s indiscretions, talented though their players are. Who will absolve them from the sneaky suspicion that perhaps their achievements are secretly teleguided from bank vaults?Right now, even as Berlusconi is once more trying to rig up a coalition government, after the recent election which returned a “hung” parliament, another accusation has been making waves against Berlusconi. It has been revealed that an Italian senator, Sergio De Gregorio, has confessed to Italian prosecutors that between 2006 and 2008, he received 3m Euros ($3,896,400) in bribes from Berlusconi, to help bring down the centre-left government of the time, led by Romano Prodi.The Senator’s accusation has led to counter-accusations by Berlusconi’s supporters. They say the Senator is trying to sabotage the former prime minister’s attempts to negotiate a possible coalition government with the centre-left Democratic party, to break the impasse created by the election of a hung parliament.The seriousness of the accusations against Mr Berlusconi has practically ruled out the possibility of a coalition between him and the Democrats. Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democrats, is trying, instead, to persuade a new party, the ‘anti-establishment’ Five Star Movement, to support him in forming a minority government.That brings me to the point of this article: the Five Star Movement is led by a — a professional comedian! The chap’s name is Beppe Grillo, and when he was campaigning, he was often dismissed as an“upstart” who didn’t have a serious thought in his mind. Now, Grillo is being wooed as the ‘playmaker’ of Italy’s fractured post-election political scene.In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, “Grillo appears to be the only real winner of Italy’s elections, and he and his scores of untested lawmakers could hold the key to Italy’s next government — what it looks like, how long it lasts and what, if anything, it gets done.” That isn’t a joke, is it? Well the Wall Street Journal isn’t exactly the reading preference of joke-seekers. It is read by millionaires and billionaires, with a sharp eye the movement of shares and bonds and things of that nature.Indeed, Grillo’s Five-Star Movement won 25% of the popular vote and is poised to seat 163 lawmakers in Italy’s two houses of Parliament. With 54 seats in the upper house, the Senate, his party is big enough to force into being, a situation in which Italy’s leading coalition — led by the centre-left Democratic Party — will be able to form a new government, only if it can forge an alliance with Grillo. Everything else, it appears, will be a comedy of errors (pun intended!).That’s because, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the only other alternative is for the Democrats to form a new coalition with their so-called ”arch-enemy”, Silvio Berlusconi’s party! So, it does it look as if Grillo could be in power soon, or at the very least, force a new election to be held.The MPs in Mr. Grillo’s party— who are referred to as the “Grillini”—are said to be a marked difference to the ‘clubby’ Italian political scene, which is largely made up of career politicians. The“Grillini”, on the other hand, consist, among others, of unemployed graduates, teachers and care workers. Their influx will make the new Parliament Italy’s youngest ever, and also the one with the most women members. These are the “floating voters” that every country seems to have in plenty, including Ghana. How one wishes our voters paid close attention to Italian politics!For what the Grillini have done is to expose the old parliamentarians and politicians as the same old boring lot, who cannot provide realistic solutions to Italy’s political and economic problems, especially its huge debt and ever-declining economy. Will other European states be going the same way?
MP: “Ei, Madam, so I see you went to a good school, eh?”
MP: “Honourable Ministerial Nominee, I am pleased that the President has found it convenient to appoint you to be a Minister in his Cabinet. Can you tell us why you think he chose you?”
Hey — Ajax Bukana, Bob Cole,. Waterproof, where are you? Your country needs you!