For the third time in 15 years Silvio Berlusconi has won a convincing victory in the Italian elections of 13-14 April. His rightwing People of Liberty party, along with his ally Umberto Bossi’s populist and racist Lega Nord (supported in wide areas of the north), has been guaranteed comfortable majorities in both houses of the Italian parliament.
The Democratic Party of Walter Veltroni, heralded as the “revolutionary mould-breaker” of old-style “coalition-obsessed” Italian politics, trail nearly 10 points behind in both houses.
Contrary to expectations that there would be massive abstention, given widespread demoralisation and cynicism following the lamentable failure of the Prodi government and of the Radical Left within it, turnout was around 81% —a fall of only 3% from the last election in 2006.
But a good part of the increased abstention made up the absolute disaster that befell the Rainbow Coalition (the Radical Left) led by Fausto Bertinotti’s Communist Refoundation party. The coalition lost nearly three million votes, failing abysmally to reach the quotas of 4% and 8% for the “Camera” and the “senate” respectively.
The presence of the “communist” and “radical” left in the parliament has, therefore, been completely wiped out, losing 110 seats. It is a veritable earthquake, destined to have an extraordinary impact on left politics in Italy, and within a very short time.
One cannot imagine a more deadly and fitting comuppance to those, like the superannuated career-fop Bertinnotti, for whom the Parliamentary road to socialism had become an article of faith.
Bertinotti has since resigned from the leadership of the party, and the same fate seems certain for others. Already an emergency national conference has been called for, along with demands for the resignation of the national directorate of Refoundation.
Of the two “Trotskyist” currents in the election, the Communist Party of Workers, operating with minimal material and human resources but arguing with impressive force and anger against Italian and international capitalism, took a very creditable 160,000 votes for the Camera and 14,0000 for the Senate. At the very least it indicated that there does exist an audience for revolutionary ideas, idea that in the face of what a Berlusconi government is preparing for the Italian working masses will become ever more precious and widespread in the months ahead.