Italy Crumbles as the Italians Babble

17 Dec

Benedetta Tommasino

Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister and president of the PDL party

In Italy, a harsh fight is being waged between different political parties. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Popolo della Libertà (PDL, centre right) is mainly opposed by Futuro e Libertà (Fli, centre right) and Partito Democratico (PD, centre left). Fli is made up of former partisans of Berlusconi, who formed a new political party in July 2010. Also noteworthy is that Berlusconi’s party emerged from the fusion of his former Forza Italia, and the Lega Nord. The latter is a far-right party which has always supported ideas such as dividing Italy in two, in order to “free” the North from the “burden of the South”. Their views on other religions and homosexuals are moreover extremely conservative, to say the least.

However, differences of opinion in Italy are not only represented by the political parties. Those who have a strong Christian belief are influenced by the Pope, who in turn condemns Berlusconi’s immoral behaviour. The Southerners, conversely, in particular the people of Sicily, are commonly considered to support Berlusconi due to his apparent popularity in this area according to polls and election results. It is common knowledge that the Premier is connected to the Mafia which fixes vote results to favour him, and thus both Berlusconi and the criminal underworld have great influence in Sicily.

Gianfranco Fini, president of the FLI party

Every day since a few months, members of the PDL and the opposition use television, newspapers and radio to attack each other. The opposition condemns Berlusconi in regard to his trials: he is accused of having hired underage prostitutes and of using his influence to free one of them, Ruby, when she was accused of theft. Berlusconi and his party fight back claiming that the media and justice system are attempting to set him up. The Fli, in turn, declares that both the PD and PDL are unacceptable.

But wait- there’s more! The PDL accuses Fli’s leader of illegally owning a house in Montecarlo, to which the party responded by stating Berlusconi should step down as Prime Minister. Berlusconi, of course, refused, and instead suggested that Fli’s leader should resign. To this, the latter answered that they should both step down.

I’m still not finished. An old story which would put the president of the Puglia region into trouble has oddly re-emerged. He is not the only one whose shady past is brought back to haunt him on talk-show sets: such accusations and confrontations have now become a recurring feature of Italian television.

Other points of conflict: that between the fervent Christians, especially horrified by the Cavaliere’s sexual “exploits”, and those with less strong beliefs; And that between Berlusconi’s all-time enemies and those who seem in perpetual awe in front of their leader, no matter what he does.

Words, words, words.

Enough! It doesn’t matter anymore what political, religious, or personal beliefs Italians have.

Pier Luigi Bersani, PD party leader

It is no longer a matter of sides. Italians are fed up of the political parties’ constant verbal jousts in order to obtain more power and more voters. They should save their breath, because these strategies do not convince anyone. They should instead concentrate on the essential issues: Italy is gaining an increasingly negative reputation, it faces endless economical problems, and there are many more crucial matters that need to be given attention. If there were a strong opposition in Italy, we would not be dedicating all political debates to Berlusconi – we would be making Italy a better country. But for now there is a lot of talk, and no walk.

Italians of all political and religious sympathies should put a stop to all of this talk about fragmentation – north or south, left or right. They should stick together and accept that at this moment, there are urgent problems to be solved – Problems that affect the population as a whole.

Italy as a unified country is 150 years old this year. Let’s make Italy the priority.

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