Berlusconi’s quest for dialogue

Berlusconi’s fourth government has won a trust vote by a clear majority at the Chamber of Deputies, yesterday. The count was 335 in favor and 275 against. Only one deputy abstained from voting. Today the same vote will take place at the Senate of Palazzo Madama, it should be another victory. The trust obtained by this new government, though, was not under question and it does not represent big news. The “search for dialogue” (with the rival Veltroni) invoked by Berlusconi is, instead, something new in the scattered panorama of the Italian politics.

Sure enough, Veltroni  – just  before voting against the new cabinet, yesterday –  has pointed out the fact that his minority coalition will “converge in every fair decision” with the majority. The former mayor of Rome has indeed shown some experience (he entered the world of politics in his twenties) by stating that, “you can only do opposition while keeping in mind the needs of a country, it is not like flexing muscles, but rather it is like proving your intelligence and showing a sense of responsibility”.

“I am thankful  to Veltroni –was the prompt answer of Il Cavaliere – and we will hold his availability in great consideration”. It sounds formal, sure, but everyone who has witnessed the last years of Italian political debate will agree that it is not.  The unusual circumstances have led the major Italian newspapers to talk about “the day of openness”.  It is certainly a good sign. The country is in desperate need of reforms and Berlusconi wants the minority led by Veltroni to approve what his coalition will put on the table.

It was Berlusconi who asked for help on the dangerous road of reforms during his intervention at the Chamber of Deputies, yesterday. His rival Veltroni answered firmly but yet positively: “the opposition will be strong and responsible… If he (Berlusconi) will show us that he can keep  promises we will immediately approve the reforms he is asking for”.

This is a philosophy that the Italians use to call: “give money, see camel”: the motto of an Egyptian merchant from ancient times, plain and simple, yeah, but also effective.  The motto shows that there is room for negotiation as long as the negotiator is ready to bargain.

What Veltroni said might also sound provocative, in a way. Although, since Berlusconi described his rival availability as a “historical passage”, we would say that it wasn’t.

The other day, Berlusconi had dinner with his collaborators and it appears that a very interesting conversation went on for a while. A the end of the meal, Il Cavaliere made some jokes, as usual: ” I placidly and serenely say, we can do it”. Now, there is a stand-up comedian that goes by the name of “Crozza” who always goes like: “placidly and serenely” for making fun of Veltroni. Same thing with “we can do it”: it is Obama’s motto transplanted into Roman slang by the former mayor of Rome.

The first serious obstacle for Berlusconi’s new cabinet is represented by the reform of  statal Tv, Rai. That will show whether the promises of this new and historical collaboration between Veltroni and Berlusconi will be fulfilled or not.

“Even on this turf – said the Pdl’s leader today – once a place for clashes and a source of misunderstandings, we could come out from a twenty-year-long war, and, even on this turf, there is no other way out than the one of dialogue”.

So, everyone seems to be optimistic and prone to collaboration. There are issues, though, for which a convergence of interests will be hard to achieve. For example: the construction of the so-called “Bridge on the Straits” (literally “over troubled waters”, we could say…) that will link Sicily to the rest of the country, could represent a potential obstacle to the collaboration of Italy’s two biggest parties.

Also, the security measures bill is expected to be a hard bone to chew for both parties, according to Il Corriere della Sera.

Another thorny issue: the de-taxation of the over-time work.

Someone argued that it’s easy to be so kind when you are in such a dominant position, like Berlusconi. However, didn’t he deserve to be in that dominant position, after all?

Andrea Loquenzi Holzer

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Andrea Loquenzi Holzer

The truth will set you free

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