ITALY NEWS

A battle of wills

Elections called for April 1314
(issue no. 73/2008 / February 21, 2008)

Senate speaker Franco Martini was given too arduous a task. Failing to convince dissident politicians to form an interim administration following the fall of Romano Prodi’s fragile majority government, Italian president Giorgio Napolitano was forced to dissolve parliament and call new elections on April 13–14.

 

With the parliamentary election campaign officially launched, the main contenders are media mogul and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and president of the Democratic Party Walter Veltroni.

 

However, the snap elections also bring a pinch of newness to the political forefront by introducing a general rearrangement of Italy’s political scene on both sides of the spectrum.

 

Italy’s two biggest parties in the centre right said they will run on a single ticket in the April elections. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which won about 24 percent of the vote in 2006 elections, and Gianfranco Fini’s right-wing National Alliance, which won about 12 percent, are to drop their logos in favour of the new People of Freedom (PDL) banner. Berlusconi hopes this new parliamentary group will be a viable ‘alternative to the Left’. He proposes an abolition of property tax on first-time homeowners and tax breaks for overtime work. His slogan is ‘Get back on your feet, Italy!’

The Northern League will also fall under the PDL, but will keep its logo. Conversely, the Union of Christian Democrats and Clemente Mastella’s Udeur party will to run independently.

 

Inciting much criticism on the left, Veltroni’s Democratic Party will run alone in the upcoming elections with the ‘We can do it!’ slogan—a slogan he allegedly borrowed from the Barack Obama campaign. The former Rome mayor promises more space for younger politicians, lower taxes and a 1000-euro minimum wage for workers on short-term contracts. Antonio Di Pietro’s Italy of Values party will join the PD in the election race.

 

Meanwhile, extreme left-wing parties decided to merge also, trading in the historic communist hammer and sickle symbol for a rainbow. They come under the new socialist grouping called the Left Rainbow.

    

A recent poll published in La Repubblica gave the centre-left between 45.5 and 46 percent of votes and the centre-right between 49.5 and 51.5 percent.

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