Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Why Would Italians Want Political Stability?

Commentators are bemoaning the failure of Italians to elect a strong government. But strong socialist governement is the last thing Italians need, since it would enable one half of the country to loot the other.

For this election, Italy reverted to the system of proportional representation so beloved by the EU, which - as you'd expect - disempowers voters (WSJ -$):

..in this weekend's elections Italians chose from a dizzying mix of 74 parties, their candidates handpicked by party bosses, not themselves. The complex law provided incentives for coalitions to fold in as many small parties as possible to win the largest share of seats in the lower house.

Mr. Prodi cobbled together a dozen parties and his 0.1 percentage point lead turned, by the rules of this game, into a controlling majority in the lower house.

So it looks like the Eurocrat Prodi won't be around for long. That's a good thing, because 5 years of him would probably break Italy into two nations - on the Czech/Slovak model if things went well, and the Bosnia/Serbia model if they didn't. Here's why:

The north of Italy, which contains the country's financial and industrial might, voted decisively for Mr Berlusconi.

However in the Mezzogiorno, the states in the South where unemployment and poverty are rife, there was a swing to the centre-Left.

This division has been around since reunification - Northerners joke "Garibaldi didn't unite Italy, he divided Africa".

Since WW2, the division has meant a succession of short-lived and weak central governments. To compensate for this, local Italian communities have grown in power - if you want to get anything done in Italy, you'd better get to know the Mayor. This works much better than the centralized Brit system.

Strong localism has held Italy together while enabling it to become the most civilized first world nation (ignoring the pathetic electricity supply).

And so the last thing it needs is an EU statist bribing the South with the North's money - the North won't stand for it.