Thursday, April 20, 2006

It's official (we hope)

There will be Mortadella per tutti! The Supreme Court upheld last week's razor thin victory for Romano Prodi (nicknamed "Mortadella", the luncheon meat), apparently knocking Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's center-right coalition out of power. Berlusoni of course is not throwing in the towel just yet. No way would he allow those communist magistrates in the courts to have the last word. Expect this to drag on for a few more weeks as he angles for the presidency --usually a low-pressure, high-travel position of shaking hands with foreign heads of state and acting as the national ambassador for all things Italy. In other words, a position you don't want foot-in-his-mouth Berlusconi anywhere near. Complicating matters further for the left, the president has a golden vote in areas of legislative dispute. And, in a deadlocked Senate as the Prodi government will oversee, the president would wield considerable power. So, in effect, if Berlusconi were to land the presidency he would in many ways be better off than as prime minister of a squabbling Legislature. Ah, Italian politics where the ultimate winner is the one who manipulates the behind-the-scenes machinations of government.

Meanwhile, even staunch lefties are holding their breath about the longevity of a new Prodi government. His ragtag coalition are a notoriously fractious bunch who have survived in politics for decades by preserving their special interests. In other words, the idea of badly needed labor reform would likely topple this government. Xtina gives it six months.

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