A thorny time in Italian politics

An update to the post of January 26th ("Government in trouble"):

Italy's political crisis remains unresolved. After another round of negotiations, Senate Speaker Franco Marini has gone back to the country’s Head of State, President Giorgio Napolitano, and reported he cannot find the consensus needed among the country's parties to form a caretaker government.

Now it seems likely that the country will head to early elections, probably in mid-April. It's not a surprise. With over 25 political parties represented in parliament, and so many fragile coalitions, legislative work has consistently ground to a halt. The country needs an effective electoral system that will streamline the number of parties, eliminate needless bickering and allow lawmakers to govern effectively.

Everyone agrees. But the solution is proving difficult, as many party leaders appear unwilling to accept any formula that would result in their parties being dissolved or absorbed into larger parties. Individuals are reluctant to give up their seats and their parties are reluctant to give up the valuable government subsidies and many other privileges that come with representation.

The question this week is: are the leaders of the major parties willing to work out some rules for electoral reform before a general election is forced on them, or will the country wait until after general elections and a new government is formed to tackle this problem? It's a very thorny issue either way. The President doesn’t have many alternatives: most groups want the parties to once again go to the people and ask for their support.

And no matter what's decided this week, Italian citizens will either watch the unfolding of another painfully slow process of negotiation or they will be subjected to a fresh barrage of campaign advertising and the vague promises that come with it. Meanwhile, the country's problems, sadly, fester.

For another summary, you can refer to the following article in the International Herald Tribune, located here.

Thanks to expatriate Canadian Sam Veres for his close-up shot of cacti needles. He made it available through the stock.xchng.

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