Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Italy - You've been Tangoed

The phone rang yesterday afternoon and when I picked up the voice on the other end was my Mum. She sounded terrible. I thought someone had died. “Berlusconi's winning” she said.

It's a sad day for Italian politics when the man the Italian nation chooses to vote for has been constantly linked to allegations of corruption, advises women worried about their financial future to marry his son, calls his opponent a 'recycled Stalinist' and has a hideously orange face (but the last part's not important in running the country I suppose, but it is ridiculous isn't it?).

The problem is, Italians are worried about their future. Italy now has the lowest wages as well as the lowest birth rate, growth rates and levels of foreign investment in Europe along with unemployment which is low at 6 per cent, but rises to 10 per cent for those aged 15 to 24. A recent survey indicated that 53% of Italians feel worse than ever.

The man the Italians could've had in power was praised for his message for the criminal syndicates: 'Don't vote for us, because we will destroy the forces that prevent development in the South.' That may well be, but if the Italians are struggling economically, they want reassurance that things will get better economically. During his campaign, Berlusconi vowed to slash taxes and boost the economy. In stark contrast Romano Prodi's government raised taxes and collapsed only after 20 months.

There is a similar quandary with the 2008 elections for the Mayor of London. Who to vote for on 1st May? The right wing gaffe-prone buffoon that is Boris Johnson or Ken Livingstone who successfully introduced congestion charges in London and who clearly has the Londoner's best interest at heart - but who has also been accused of corruption and wasting tax payers' money.

So as much as I hate to say it, I can understand why the Italians voted Berlusconi in. There just isn't a decent alternative. If you were in their situation, what would you do?