Vince il Voto Utile

I type this post as I watch the Porta a Porta election edition. At 2300 hours the official confirmation is finally obtained – the Popolo della Liberta party led by Berlusconi has won the elections. It will govern in coalition with Umberto Bossi’s Lega Nord. The PdL-LN coalition has a lead of nine percentage points over the Partito Democratico – Di Pietro coalition. The Italians have voted for a simplification of the system of representation and a myriad of smaller parties have been cut out of parliament. There is no denying that this will benefit Italian politics but even with this minimisation of parties represented in parliament it remains interesting to notice that Italians still voted for two “radical” parties to be represented on both sides.

Both Bossi’s party and Di Pietro’s will be represented and were an important element in these elections. While recognising the importance of the practical element of the “useful vote” a substantial amount of voters used their vote to endorse different elements than the two main formations (PdL and PD). They had a choice and they used it.

More analysis later.

P.S. New vids on vodpod (scroll down right sidebar).


21 responses to “Vince il Voto Utile

  1. Bossi, the guy who wants an independent Padania, who called african immigrants “Bingo Bongos”, and who said he’d sink their boats with machine gun fire. As for Berlusca… no comment.

    Seems italians want a stable government made up of people you can’t trust.

  2. Keith,

    x’kienet l-ghazla?


    x’inhu l-ahjar Gvern stabbli mafjuz jew gvern li qatt ma jista’ jservi legislatura?

    Jew l-ahjar is-sistema li qed jipprova jdahhal Beppe Grillo bil-Liste Civiche?

    Anyway prosit Jacques, f’erba’ sentenzi kont kapaci tiddeskrivi post li Beppe Grillo dam 5 snin biex jispjegaha.

  3. It’s the economy, my beauty 🙂 where is the purse? where will it be spent? The name of the game is having control on these two aspects. And to obtain control you need to control the media first…china, italy, malta … could Blair ever make it without murdoch? i doubt it…And with two years of an overawed Prodi fumbling at the controls…my question put half in jest is, will he now want to control the opposition too?

  4. L-ghazla?

    Bejn Bossi u Di Pietro naghzel Di Pietro.
    Bejn Berlusconi u Weltroni ma naghzel lil hadd.

  5. Dik il-cartoon fejn sibtha Jacques? vera tajba

  6. I received the toon by email from a fonctionnaire but it is by Vauro a famous italian cartoonist who has done some work for the UN too.

  7. For me, as a Leftist, the result is a big disappointment. Yet it also teaches important lessons.

    The Right has managed to capture the mood of the people through its clear message, populist politics and through the mistakes of the Left in Government, most notably re. governability, stability and the economy. Rightist hegemonic strategies are food for much thought.

    The Left has much to learn if it wants to be victorious and bring about progressive social change. It must see the signs of the times, update its ideological vision, and devise strategies and communicate accordingly. Populism should not be a dirty word – it should be the way forward for hegemonic politics.

    The Left must show that another world is possible, yet not a world which is alien from aspirations of the masses. It should embrace down to earth issues such as family and security, in addition to issues such as work and ecology. As I see it, a leftist politics should be universist in scope, aiming for equality and social justice, yet at the same time aim to meet particularistic aspirations of reflexive individuals in societies of multiple identities.

    Bertinotti’s humility is admirable. He conceded defeat, was self-critical, and did not blame others, or the voters for the results of the Arcobaleno Left which he led (Rifondazione Comunista, Communisti Italiani, Greens and Democratic Leftists) .

    Bertinotti said the following his resignation as leader of the Rainbow Left «Ci sono certe sconfitte che insegnano più delle vittorie, diceva un grande presidente. Certo, sarebbe meglio imparare da una vittoria. Ma questa è una sconfitta, indiscutibile: e dunque bisogna saper imparare la lezione che contiene. Anzi, politicamente essenziale è saper imparare insieme da una sconfitta così». E’ questa la giornata: un giorno di sconfitta. E una sconfitta così. Ossia, storica.

    How different Bertinotti is from Sant in 2003 and from Harry Vassallo today. Vassallo keeps blaming everyone but himself, keeps signing articles as AD chairman and keeps being anything but humble and realistic.

    Vassallo’s attitude is leading people to ask why they should join AD and not Labour, especially since the latter, unlike AD, is doing its utmost to attract people of different stripes in its ranks. I really hope that AD decides to change its public attitude sooner rather than later. Otherwise, AD risks becoming even more inword looking, like a sect, cut off from the popular aspirations of the masses.

  8. Mike. I have not had time to elaborate more on this issue today but I do have a nagging doubt that what we are seeing here is the gradual need of the reinvention of the whole “Left” concept as a whole. The calls for substance in the new Labour Leadership campaign should not remain unheeded. Leo brincat today asks the candidates to be more clear about what they intend to do. I agree with him. The thing is that the whole “ratio” of the existence of the Left – particularly in EU countries needs updating or radical reinventing.

    Maybe it is a question of refilling the vacuum left by the Left with something new that inherits the policies that remain valid while adapting to the new realities. To give but one example – the dynamics of representing the “worker class” (I would go for the “employed” and even extend to the SMEs) have changed. The organisation required to represent their realities must span a big arch from local to national to European.

    Then there is the liberal element. It is not big enough to encompass a new party but should find a home in a broader New progressive Party. Frankly I think the term left itself will do a disservice to the new reality. An umbrella movement of “progressives” (and I purposely use this term freely since this is a brainstorming comment) could be defined in terms of a representative Open Party structure that can adapt to real-time representation in the age of IT, ecological awareness and a silent civic revolution. In these aspects there are the terms to take an advantage over the programmes of the conservative centre that currently runs the country.

    A MODEM for Malta? Who knows.

    CAVEAT LECTOR: This post is purely brainstorming – think and write. I reserve the right to disagree with anything I have just written. That too is the luxury of a blogging discussion.

  9. David Friggieri

    1) I’m sure you guys have heard of this book:

    Definitely worth a read.

    2) To go local, Labour under Sant wasn’t really leftist at all. It was simply a collection of persons fuelled by a pragmatic/opportunistic approach to politics. They just weren’t too good at pulling the charade off.

    3) Mike, when you say that Labour is doing its utmost to attract people of different stripes in their ranks, who do you mean exactly?

    4) There’s one big historical/cultural moment which defines the Left/Right divide in Europe: and that is 1968. In my view, Malta only got a slight whiff of that crucial period.

  10. Quick note on point 4 above.

    True re:1968. Only thing is that the Left that emerged from 1968 is now disappearing. It would be useless for Malta to pick that “whiff” now. Better jump on the reinvention bandwagon and step boldly where others seem to be willing to tread (experiment). A plus!


  11. David Friggieri

    My prediction is that Muscat (if he gets in) will reinvent Labour as the party which really modernised Malta. And the irony will be delicious: a guy who campaigned vociferously to keep us in splendid isolation will reinvent himself (and his party) as the truly progressive European party. It’s going to be so painful for the Daphnes of this world: Muscat as Obama, Muscat as Blair, Muscat as Zapatero!!! Coming at you live and direct, across borders, from the Hamrun Glass House to the Brussels Glass House via the Starsbourg Glass House. On Super One.

  12. Mike, you cannot apply what happened in Italy to Malta, to start with in Malta there is no Leftist movement, and if we had to strech our imagination a bit, the parties to the left of the political spectrum are PN and AD. The MLP has decided to stop being a leftist since 1992, not only for paying just lipservice to the working class, but also due to its policy on European immigration in the run-up to the EU. It’s 22 months in government, the, are an ode to DIY Tatcherism.

    On the otherhand we have the PN who rather than acting responsably and making those who can afford to pay for health services, continues throwing money down the drain, in an attempt to avoid going down in history as the ‘Gvern li gab is servizzi tas Sahha bil hlas”. It’s high time that means testing gets introduced seriously in MAlta, what we have is a system that has been used and abused for too long. But of course, none of the political parties will ever come forward proposing anything of the sort. Instead they continue promising tax cuts without ever tackling the increasing goverment expenditure. Suffice is to say that anyone with the right connections can get the famous ‘Karta Roza’ if he really wants to. Not to mention the famous boarding out process.

    In Malta we have this strange idea of being a leftist…the only way you can help a worker is to make him spend less, and stifling any will to work, by making sure that the social services offered to the unemplyed are as close as possible (12 euros per week difference) to the national minimum wage.

    Also, all this talk on helping the left find its feet…whoever said that left ideology is better than right? Last but not least, can you mention any government, except maybe Zapatero’s, with any leftist ideology? Even the Chinese communist party can be described as being far far right.

  13. off-the-cuff reactions … The left/right conflict became diluted ever since it was established that a happy employee means high productivity and high morale within businesses.

    Despite this accepted knowledge, the objective of optimum work-life balance remains an exception rather than the rule. This goal is a win-win goal and should perhaps become the priority of the ‘left’.

    There are some notable examples of excellent employer/employee relationships that should ‘in principle’ mean that such employers should have the total support of the political spectrum on the left of the ‘political divide’ Such support may not however be available to a significant swathe of businesses, generally family business, where archaic business concepts prevail, as more than 70% of businesses fail to make it beyond the second (autocratic) generation.

    I therefore feel that the old right/left has been superseded by pragmatism (ie issues of ‘corruption’ do not swing results) as dictated by realities on the ground. The old left forces very often lack the culture, resources influence or backing to model paths that may entice a working population in cruising mode.

  14. The left can re-invent itself, and as a leftist I believe it SHOULD re-invent itself for its own sake. Can the left keep on addressing a certain section of the population whilst ignoring a large proportion of the population? Can the left devise a credible economic policy without consulting businessmen? With the new economic reality as it is, can some left-wing politicians keep on advocating protectionism, rather than favour free but fair trade? And then there is the issue of democratisation within the left-wing movement; which in Malta seems to be non-existent at times.

    As Jacques said, ‘progressive’ politics is probably a better term. There is a liberal element within the left wing movement, and that is not being addressed.

  15. Some replies to question above

    1) MLP reaching out to people. Yes, some Labour leadership candidates are reaching out to non-Labourites in their attempt to make Labour more inclusive. To me this is something very positive, and was last seen in Labour during 1992-1996.

    2) Comparing Italy with Malta. Yes, of course, Italy and Malta are 2 different societies, yet there are certain similarities owing to our Southern Mediterrenean cultures. When I compared Berninotti to Harry Vassallo, I was comparing the contrasting attitudes of 2 leaders who lost, and not 2 societies.

    3) Re. Left / Right – I have written alot about this divide. In my blog there are various articles in this regard. Only recently, I gave some pre-electoral comments on Left, Right and Centre in Italy which you can check out in my blog, under the heading “L-ideologiji u l-Elezzjonijiet fl-Italja”.

    4) The Left must truly invent itself. A contemporary Sociologist who is concerned with social and ecological issues, Michael Cahill, wrote as early as 1994 that social policy should not only deal with ‘traditional’ issues such as work and education, but should also embrace issues such as Communicating; Consuming; Travelling; Shopping; Playing; and Viewing. The Right has surely managed to do better here – even when considering more ‘traditional’ issues such as security. Cahill however says that it is difficult to reconcile the identities of ‘consumer’ and ‘citizen’, especially due to the ecological limits of contemporary societies. In sum, the Left must be capable of embracing other issues in addition to its pet issues, and most not attempt to impose an agenda which is miles away from the universal and particular aspirations of the people.

  16. I think Berlusconi is a very skilfull politician who created a hegomic block which welds together economic liberals with a motley crew of xenophobes, economic nationalists and authoritarians. He also benefits from his status as an icon in Italian popular culture-a culture which was once so rich but which today is so decadent.
    Yes there are contradictions in his block. His conflicts of interests and monopolies on the media contradict his nominal adherence to the free market. But as a skilfull politician he managed to present himself as the man who can keep a coalition united.
    Fundamental to Berlusconi’s success is the Lega, once defined by Massimo D’Alema as “una costola della sinistra” because of its appeal in working class constituencies.
    The failure of the democrats to win any centre ground and the complete obiliteration of the radical left are indicative of the crisis.
    The left everywhere seems to have an intellectual appel but has a big problem in communicating with the masses.
    Of course lacking a leftist tradition, Malta is a case on its own. Yet I think that these questions also apply to Malta.
    1.How can the left address concerns on immigration and security while
    confronting racism hyped by generalisations in the media?
    2. How can the left appeal to both the upwardly mobile and successful and those who are
    socially excluded who many times also lack a decent education?
    3. How can left wing parties appeal to voters who want a direct say on who
    should govern their country especially in electoral systems which favour big
    parties or coalitions?
    4. Should left wing parties aspire to govern with the moderate forces or
    should they retreat to the trenches?
    5. How can the left explain global problems to people who cant makes ends
    meet and find it easier to identify with the antics and motifs of the
    populist right?
    Surely the answers to these questions are not clear cut and deserve a
    serious analysis.
    I also admired Bertinotti for his reaction to the result. He resigned, critiicised himself and left with dignity.

  17. A friend of mine once said that if you want to understand socialism, you should focus on the “social” part of the word. Contrary to other political ideologies that might place too much emphasis on the individual or on nationalism, socialism is about the people that make up a community. Furthermore, socialism gives special attention to taking care of those members within a community that are at great risk of being exploited by more powerful individuals.

    I do believe that the media accounts for a great deal of ignorance about socialism. On an almost daily basis, we are inundated with TV shows and competitions of various kinds that do little to promote co-operation and to shed light on the plight of the living conditions faced by thousands of wage-slaves in our country. There seems to be this attempt to deceive the wage-slaves into believing that there are no huge differences between individuals such as Jennifer Lopez and themselves. The masses keep being told that if they work very hard, they will become extremely successful. When such rhetoric is brushed aside, one will realise that there are millions of people in the world who work very hard, but who are not really making much progress in their lives.

    Whoever calls himself/herself a leftist should, in my opinion, be aware of the false consciousness that has been injected into a relatively large section of the world’s wage-slaves. A leftist party needs to destroy such myths and to bombard the masses with the facts about the many struggles being faced by countless families. Socialist values need to be promoted and contrasted with the values being championed by other parties. The masses need to feel that there is something different when analysing a leftist organisation.

  18. Talk about a crisis – look at this: – “Li ġġib lil pajjiżek u l-poplu l-ewwel u qabel kollox ifisser li tkun Laburist.” How can you be more out-of-point than this? And this is just an example… to be a “Laburist” in low-class Malta means being a sort of glorified catholic that needs to fight the PN government all the time. For the everyday “Laburist”, MLP is not a political party but a strange mixture of moral values. Re-read the letter in that link and if you have time check out the original article published on Illum the week before. And I believe PN is not so different, even though it is much more pragmatic and materialistic in its approach (that’s an effect of being in government for a long time I think – having people black-mailing you all the time fosters a more ‘material’ approach – it’s the same as MLP in the 80s).

  19. Yeah, some seem to think PN was elected by 140,000 rich people, and that an MLP government would steal from those 140,000 to give to the poor (its lower class supporters). That’s the gist you used to get from Cuschieri’s show anyway.

  20. Pingback: I.M.Jack – Best of the Blobs · j'accuse

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