A Crisis is Born in Italy

Well as almost everyone must surely know by now, Romano Prodi’s government resigned earlier in the week. The present situation is still far from clear, with President Giorgio Napolitano holding urgent consultations with the various interested parties even as I write. Since my interest in Italy is largely an economic one (see accompanying post to follow this) and since I do not consider myself to be any sort of expert on the Italian political process, I asked Manuel Alvarez Rivera (who runs the Election Resources on the Internet site) and who is a political scientist with detailed knowledge of Italian politics for an opinion. Below the fold you can find what he sent me.

At the same time anyone inside or outside of Italy with a different take or perspective please feel free to add something in the comments section.
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Bloodthirsty Slavs vs. Racist, Revisionist Italians

Actually, it’s racist, revisionist, and revanchist Italians. But we’ll get to that.

Short version: Italy and Croatia have just had a brief but bitter diplomatic dispute over statements made by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Croatian President Stipe Mesic. There’s not really a good or bad side here, either; both nations seem to have had a short but violent attack of what my grandmother used to call “the stupids”.

On the plus side, it seems to be over now, and cooler heads have prevailed.

Much more below, if you’re interested.
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The Accordion Strategy

And so it begins. Back in Italy, the Left has comprehensively disrupted the Right’s systems by folding Massimo D’Alema’s candidacy (German link) and producing a surprise candidate, the 81-year old Democratic Leftie Giorgio Napolitano. The effect has been to split the Right coalition, with ex-cause célébre Rocco Buttiglione annoucing that his neo-Christian Democrats will back Napolitano, the Northern League announcing they will oppose him, whilst Forza Italia and the ex-fascists hold their peace – perhaps for lack of a decision on what to do.

Fascinatingly, as yesterday blogged, part of the problem is managing the vote so the Democratic Left’s honour is maintained. Apparently, if it looks like Napolitano won’t make it, the Left will spoil their ballots rather than submit him to a defeat. However, the split on the Right raises another possibility: in the first three rounds of voting, a two-thirds supermajority is needed to elect a president, but if there is no agreement by then, in the fourth round only a simple majority, 504 votes, is needed. It might pay to keep the Left vote down for three rounds, then plunge for the 50%+1..

Update, 1700BST: The voting has begun. Unione candidates are apparently going to cast a blank ballot in the first round. Are they pursuing the AFOE strategy?