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PostITALY: Berlusconi, Europe and America (Ronald Hilton, USA, 07/12/03 2:42 am)
Christopher Jones reports on la dolce vita in Italy: "Berlusconi's ruling coalition, the Casa delle Libertate, is composed of three groups: his own conservative Forza Italia, Gianfranco Fini's Alianza Nazionale which is the successor party to Duce Benito Mussolini's Fascisti and Umberto Bossi's Lega Nord, which is based in the northern half of the Italian peninsula and maintains a longtime goal of separating the north from the south and creating the state of Padania. I believe there are a few leftovers of the old but reconstituted DC (Democrazia Cristiana) but nobody pays any attention to them and they are very marginal. In particular, the two fascist partners in the coalition Lega Nord and AN have been pushing form a real crackdown on illegal immigration to Italy, and Forza Italia has been more that sympathetic. For example, just ten days ago, a rumor was floated that Italy could militarily occupy the Libyan coast and Italian warships would patrol Libyan waters to stop the daily boatrides across the Mediterranean to Italy. Although it was later denied by Qaddafi's government, it was revealed that the Libyans are no longer capable of coastal surveillance, probably due to the sanctions imposed upon them for among other misdeeds the Lockerbie bombing. This only serves to highlight that inside Italy, the immigration situation is desperate. Illegals from all over Africa patrol supermarket parking lots with shopping carts full of cheap goods that they try tp sell shoppers. Most of the time, they simply accost the shoppers demanding that they buy something for an outrageous price. East European immigrants and more precisely, Albanian immigrants who cross the Otranto straits are generally pressed into one of the numerous Mafia style criminal gangs that control everything from cocaine and prostitution to illegal weapons.
This situation has quite naturally exploded into the face of the left as time and again voters in local elections soldify the base of principally the most radical coalition member, the Lega Nord. The best case is Treviso where the LN mayor has rounded up all illegals and interned them in a concentration camp-style ghetto. I have heard him say that if they try to leave their ghetto, he will have them dressed up in bunny outfits and declare open rabbit-hunting season. (Italians are passionate hunters.) Berlusconi's appeal is more modern and he cultivates the young, upwardly mobile vote. During the election that brought him to power, he produced a very polished magazine about himself called Una Storia Italiana which recounted his life story. Not everyone received this magazine. You had to be selected. Lo and behold, I was very surprised one day when there it was in my postbox. I found it very interesting because Berlusconi offered Italians just what they longed for: stable, slightly authoritarian government, pride in their country, cleanup of administration of government, pensions raised to cope with today's prices, a dynamic economy, trains running on time, etc. And to an extent he has kept his promise which is a thorn in the side of all European leftists.
The common wisdom among Italians is that Berlusconi has so much money he doesn't need to resort to corruption. It could be true. The real corruption involved in Italian politics comes out of the Vatican -- and no German accuser wants to tackle that one. But the media campaign against him, generally emanating out of Germany, has provoked a rightist backlash by Berlusconi and his followers. The cover story of Spiegel shows him under the title "Der Pater" in a clear reference to mafia godfathers. Berlusconi's now famous concentration camp guard insult to SPD /MEP Martin Schulz was in reply to Schulz's insistence on interrogating Berlusconi over the mafia/corruption angle after the Greens greeted Berlusconi with placards inside the chamber saying "Der Pater" In a way I think we're just kidding ourselves: Putin says in a press conference that he wants to castrate a Le Monde reporter and nobody gives a damn. America is running a Nazi style concentration camp, yet the TV is filled with "I love America." But poor old Silvio Berlusconi is taken to task for suggesting in irony that a pompous German socialist should get the role as a "kapo" in a movie about a concentration camp. The famous Italian movie director Franco Zefferelli is on record as saying that the problem with Berlusconi is that he is far too mild, almost too good. He says what Italy needs are a few concentration camps.