…and the elections in Italy
In provincial and local elections on Sunday and Monday Mr Prodi and his allies limited their losses to parts of northern Italy where the opposition had already shown its strength in the 2006 national election.
His centre-left forces won the central city of L'Aquila as well as the Sicilian city of Agrigento from the centre-right, and they also held on to Genoa - perhaps the biggest prize up for grabs.
The centre-right won Verona from the centre-left, and also took the southern city of Reggio Calabria.
Silvio Berlusconi, the opposition leader who was premier from 2001 to 2006, said his forces had done well enough to justify Mr Prodi's resignation as premier.
But Massimo D'Alema, foreign minister, said: ”Berlusconi lost all the local elections he faced when he was in power, and he never resigned, so he's the last person who can talk.”
As a matter of fact, the current development in the Italian center-left might be even more interesting. To cut a very long extremely short (article in AiP here): Since 1996, Democratici di Sinistra (DS, the reformed Communist party, now a great social democratic party) and Margherita (”Prodi’s party”, a coalition of parties with roots in the old, radical catholic movement) have been cooperating in coalition called Ulivo [photo from Ulivo election rally in Rome 2006 above]. This coalition is supposed to turn into a new party; Partito Democratico (PD), at a congress in October 2007.
However, at a congress in Florence in April, only 75 percent of the members of DS supported the idea of the new party (put forward by the secretary general of DS, Piero Fassino). 15 percent supported Fabio Mussi, who rejects the idea new party. Another 10 percent wants to “wait-and-see”.
One very difficult question for the new party is what party group to join in the European Parliament; DS belongs to the Party of European Socialists, and Margherita to the liberal group ALDE.
In April, Margherita had a congress as well (in Rome) and they approved the new party without problems. However, another party that should think about joining the coalition is SDI – a small Italian socialist party that belongs to the Socialist International, just like DS.
But when SDI met in Fiuggi last month, they rejected to join the new party PD. After speaking to my friend Fidel Romano in SDI, I understand that they reject the new party mainly because of the rather close ties between Margherita and the Catholic church (think of question such as gay marriage, abortion, insemination, etc).
So, one idea within the SDI is to revive/refound the old Italian Socialist Party, PSI. PSI could then become the home for disappointed members of DS, SDI and their hang arounds, and maybe some other radical groups.
My friend Fidel joked and said that the Italian left is heading towards three blocks: The new party PD, the re-born PSI, and the communists.
Maybe that joke contains a giant grain of truth.