Da Il Fatto Quotidiano oggi:
Silvio Berlusconi esce allo scoperto e dichiara pubblicamente l’intenzione di far fallire il referendum per evitare che la volontà popolare freni i piani del governo. Nessun passo indietro, dunque, sulla politica pro-atomo dell’esecutivo. “Se fossimo andati oggi a quel referendum - ha ammesso il Cavaliere - il nucleare in Italia non sarebbe stato possibile per molti anni a venire”. I sondaggi in possesso del premier dimostrano quindi che il quorum verrebbe raggiunto nonostante la data “balneare” fissata per le consultazioni. E se si raggiungesse il 51% sul nucleare, probabilmente avrebbe successo anche il quesito sul legittimo impedimento. Farlo fallire è la vera urgenza del Caimano.
In his latest blog post, James Walston explains the significance (and the history) of the four referendums which Italian voters are called on to judge next weekend.
I confess I have some hesitation about some of the points James makes. But he is a seasoned observer of the Italian political scenario (which is why I continue to reblog his valuable posts), and no doubt you will want to join in the fray.
Here is Walston’s latest (and helpful) explanation of the history of referendums (personally, I prefer “referenda”, but then, I’m a pedantic old fart) in Italy, and what is at stake next weekend.
His posts begins: On Sunday and Monday, Italians will vote once again, the third time in a month. This time it is the whole population, just over 50 million; they have to decide on four referendums, nuclear power, water (two) and the so called “legitimate impediment”. In practice, once again and despite strenuous denials from all sides, the real issue is Berlusconi and his government.
As expected, the Constitutional Court declared yesterday that the referendum on nuclear energy should go ahead. More surprising was that their verdict was unanimous, writes James Walston in his most recent blog post. We shouldn’t have been surprised after the new president, Alfonso Quaranta, said “unofficially” on Monday that there were no grounds for not holding the referendum. Given the the political composition of the Court it would have been unlikely that a majority of the judges agreed with him. Instead, all of them decided that their only job was to judge the constitutionality of the referendum and of the earlier Court of Cassation verdict: they decided that there were no objections.
Walston explains the thinking behind this decision, and concludes: A week ago, I was very sceptical that more than 25 million Italians would turn out to vote – they haven’t done so since 1995. Now I think there is a good possibility. The next technical question is whether the 3 million or so Italians abroad will be included in the quorum, but the issue will only arise if they are crucial to the result.
Read the whole of Walston’s post here.
It’s been a bad week for Berlusconi, says James Walston in his latest blog post. On Monday Bill Emmot in The Times said “the Italian Prime Minister is a political vegetable — one that’s riddled with E. coli” and predicted his imminent political demise. Then Ariel Levy produced an elegant eleven page description of Berlusconi sleaze in The New Yorker “Basta bunga bunga”. And now The Economist has produced yet another devastating dossier, this time by John Prideaux. The paper edition was “delayed for inspection” for a few hours at Rome airport on Friday.
But the worst could yet be to come...
Read the full text of Walston’s post here.
Marinella and I went to vote in the referenda at around 2 pm. The three young officials presiding at the polling station were cheerful and chatty.
On the way out, I noticed an abandoned game of cards on a side table, and had a sudden sinking feeling - had they had nothing to do all morning?
"How has the turnout been?" Marinella asked them.
"Great, just great," said one. "La Repubblica said about 10% at midday."
"The latest we saw was over 11% as we left the house," I replied.
They laughed. “We’ve got way more than that here,” replied one. “Must be around 20% But then it’s always good here - the problem’s at a national level.”
We’ll see. Even those who go to the beach or into the mountains can always vote tonight after supper, or even tomorrow morning before going to work. But around 20% made us feel pretty hopeful.
Before polls closed this morning - writes James Walston in his latest blog post - Prime Minister Berlusconi admitted to the visiting Bibi Netanyahu that Italy’s nuclear energy programme was over and that he should concentrate on renewables. There is another nuclear option available, though, but not to Berlusconi; if his essential ally, Umberto Bossi decides to withdraw the Northern League’s support at their annual rally at Pontida on Sunday,
Walston analyses the blows which a punch-drunk Berlusconi has suffered in the last two or three weeks, and the threatening clouds which are gathering around him, and concludes: For the moment, at any rate, Berlusconi “staggers on like the mummy” said one friend, and he is looking increasingly like one too.
Read the full text of Walston’s post here.
Referendums are an arcane branch of politics, writes James Walston in his latest blog post; electoral systems even more so – combined they are normally as stimulating as a valium-camomile cocktail. But once again, Italy is different and yesterday’s news that the promoters of an election reform referendum managed to gather more than 1.2 million signatures is news indeed, and of much more interest than Berlusconi’s latest Montenegrin “fiancée”. If passed the referendum would abolish the very unpopular electoral law (nicknamed “porcellum”, a multiple pun I won’t try to translate, but the sense is close to “pigsty”) in which parliamentarians are in practice nominated by party bosses.
Having explained the mechanics of the referendum in Italy, how it has been used and to what effect in the past, Walston concludes:
If the referendum passes, Italy will revert to a mixed system with 75% of deputies elected in single member, UK or US style constituencies/districts and 25% from fixed party lists. Voters will have a much bigger voice in who represents them and will at least know who it is. But for the moment, it is all politicians who are considered fair game, a bit like lawyers in some other countries. On that score, have you heard the latest Sicilian politician joke? The Regional Government paid one of its employees 200 hours overtime in August… to clear snow. And, you’re right, it’s not a joke.
Read the whole of the blog post here.