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Italy After The Elections

Managed the astonishing feat of almost losing: Pier Luigi Bersani.

Managed the astonishing feat of almost losing: Pier Luigi Bersani.

The Italian elections have come and gone and, thankfully for us Christians, the worst has been, for now at least, avoided.

You might remember I had decided to hold my nose and vote for the Berlusconi-led Centre-right coalition after both Casini (the leader of the supposedly Catholic UDC party) and Monti had spoken of a possible endorsement of something similar to incivil partnerships.

It turned out the UDC was thoroughly massacred, and Monti severely punished.  The barely believable recovery of the Centre-right coalition, admittedly led by a spectacularly pugnacious Berlusconi, is exemplified by the fact that only 124,000 votes over a population of 56 million separated them from the relative majority and the  340 (or 54%) MPs linked with it. As it stands, the majority bonus went to the centre-left coalition, but without a majority in the Senate (not even together with Monti; which was the original “Plan B” ) and therefore looking like they had managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

The explosive new element (punctually not foreseen by yours truly, who thought voters would be reasonable in the end) is the motley crew of young people without a clue, unable to count and with great difficulties to think straight, but animated by great honesty and desire to improve the country of the so-called “five stars movement”.

They are led by a very successful comedian, Giuseppe “Beppe” Grillo (this is his real name, though “grillo” means “cricket” and well matches his comedic persona ). Grillo has been active in politics for the last 25 years (for you Americans, think an older Colbert without the pretend Catholicism and with a more dangerous sting) and is a very intelligent guy, whose honesty is only equaled by his own staggering political incompetence.

This man has become the catalyst of all those wanting to give a brutal message to the traditional parties, and who have inflated his core electorate based on tree-huggers, chronic revolutionaries and assorted dreamers. How honest the “grillini”  are can be seen from the fact they will not touch one penny of the EUR 100,000,000 (yes, that’s one hundred million) due to them as reimbursement of electoral expenses.

So, where are we now? The short answer is that no one knows; the longer one is that the centre-left will try to work with the new “five stars movement” on some core issues – like a new electoral law as the present one is universally disliked – before going to the polls again.

What this means for Catholics is at the moment very difficult to say. Unless I have missed something, no one is talking of incivil partnership as a priority now; but the situation is dangerous because between leftists and five star movement a majority could very probably be obtained in both chambers, and the  latter party leans decidedly towards the “secular/do what you please/we don’t care about Christian values” side. Still, it might well not happen, and it cannot be excluded both parties would have a number of dissidents if it did, whilst a ferocious opposition from the right might – or might not – ensue.

What happens from here will depend on whether we get a new electoral law, and which one. If we do, the sure death of the present, utterly brutal “majority bonus” in the lower chamber (in the Senate there are 15 different bonuses, which make things more nuanced) will mean a distribution of MPs more reflective of the real sentiment in the country, but I am not sure this sentiment is in his majority opposed to incivil partnerships. If we don’t, there will be another election with the “majority bonus” roulette, and it might well be a close race between the five stars – still in ascent, untested by government responsibilities, and according to many taking the majority of their votes from potentially leftist voters – and the centre-right coalition which, with more time at their disposal, would be a formidable opponent.

The worst has been – for now – avoided. Fake Catholic parties have been massacred, with the conservative vote now firmly in the hands of the centre-right coalition; but there isn’t much consolation to be drawn from this, and sadly the fact centre-right renounced to start the crusade for traditional marriage speaks volumes about the lay of the land.

We will soon have a new Pope; who, if he were to be both Italian and tough, will not fail to influence a part of the electorate. Particularly the second is a big “if”, and we are faced with an uncertainty which, if you ask me, does not bode well.

Pray for this once so Catholic country, where 50 years of neglect of proper instruction and proper Catholicism are leading to the slow but constant deterioration of what used to be a strong and proud Catholic heritage.


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