Romano Prodi's cabinet is probably facing the most difficult situation since it came to power in April 2006. A couple of big scandals are jeopardizing the majority and even the prime minister himself is accused of misuse of office. A bullet was sent to judge De Magistris (who was investigating both Prodi and Mastella, the justice minister) along with some threats from a unknown source. Later on, he was forced to give up the case. With the minister of justice accused of fraud against the European Union, early elections are probably the only solution to the political chaos.
While getting to know the news about the fact that he was not going to work anymore on the “Why Not” case, Luigi De Magistris, the judge from Naples who was taking care of the new “Italian affair”, commented in this way: “We are back to the '30s, we are back to a judiciary order arranged in a fascist way ”. Actually, he had to know about the removal of the “Why Not” case from his desk through the media reports and not via his superior.
That's probably why De Magistris described the Italian legal situation in such a scary way, “we are heading toward the end of the rule of law... and the autonomy of the whole judiciary system”.
It goes without saying: a similar situation could mean the end of the government as well.
When asked who was behind the decision to get him off the case he started working on last June, De Magistris became even more scary: “Hidden powers, freemasonry. Backed by branches of the legal system...”.
What should also be noticed is that Romano Prodi himself is under investigation in the “Why Not” case, the crime being misuse of office. Also, it is interesting to know that De Magistris received a letter containing a cal.38 bullet on October 16th along with various threats about his own well being: “the next one[meaning the bullet] is going to be for you” and so forth.
Another important person involved in the case is the minister of justice, namely Clemente Mastella (who is also the leader of the moderate political faction Udeur). He is actually one of the main characters in this scenario, and has to face important charges such as fraud against the European Union and misuse of office. At least he revealed, “I met the Pope and I am completely calm”. Good for him. And using still more Christian language, Mastella also said: “If the country needs this kind of hero,that's ok. But this one [De Magistris] is no national hero or idol. Heroes fail because they are made of clay, let's not mix-up Christ with Barabbas”.
This being a particularly serious situation which involves the legal system but not the only one upsetting everyday's political life in Italy. Indeed, there is also the case of the budget plan for the next fiscal year to be approved by the government. In this case, the main point is about the welfare system (already known as one of the worst in Europe) and the reform of the pension system, which caused an exciting debate during the last weeks.
The Prodi government is characterized by a small majority in the Senate. A fact that forced the “Unione” (as the Union of the ruling parties is usually referred to) to govern in a difficult way, since Prodi and his men have to be very respectful of the many forces of the coalition in power in every step they take.
The Finanziaria (Budget Plan) issue is so complicated that Berlusconi himself claimed, no longer than a few days ago, to be convinced that the government will fall on November 15th. Well, “Il Cavaliere” might be used to such claims, but you can't say the same thing about his old friend Gianni Letta, whose usually very wise when it comes to similar issues: “the game is almost over”, said Berlusconi's right arm, also adding, “the president has everything in his hands, right know”. By saying so, Letta was referring to a number of Senators of the government coalition, ready to pass to Berlusconi’s side.
This is actually what the government fears most right now. But, is it true or is it just a bluff aimed at destabilizing the already shaky political environment? Consider what Berlusconi (who is one of the biggest anti-communists in Europe) said, while on his way home from St. Petersburg, “the last thing we should do at this moment is being against Napolitano”. Now, Giorgio Napolitano is the Italian President and “Il Cavaliere” was referring to the Mastella case. It would be easy for the President of Forza Italia to point the finger at the justice minister after what happened, but he didn't do it. That is perhaps because he is still looking for bigger prey? Early elections, maybe?
Maybe. Anyway, rumors about Berlusconi's sentences regarding the Prodi government’s forthcoming failure over the Budget Plan had spread all over the place. He apparently recommended his associates to “keep in shape for the next election”. Also, during a lunch in Palazzo Grazioli, the former President of Republic Francesco Cossiga has told the press about Berlusconi's self-confidence. “He is sure to be capable of destabilizing this government at every time”, said the lifetime Senator.
Now, if Forza Italia's leadership is aiming at anticipated elections and, generally speaking, right-wing politicians agree, one could still rise an eye-brow and think it as a joke or a way to scare the majority, or a bluff. But, when the secretary of the newly born “Partito Democratico”, Luigi Zanda says that even “Veltroni does not want to be hanging on for the next year and a half and is starting himself to think about [early] elections” we can start thinking of the whole nightmare-scenario, featuring mafia letters to a judge, a sudden political crisis plus a justice minister being investigated, as something real.