A year after the narrow victory of Romano Prodi’s multiparty coalition in the general elections, two out three Italians are disappointed with the work of his government. According to an opinion poll published by the Corriere della Sera, 20 percent of those interviewed stated that the government had done “a very bad job”. A further 45 percent declared that they were “somewhat disappointed” with the performance of the governing coalition. It is important to note that the level of dissatisfaction goes right to the heart of the coalition’s electoral base with four out of ten of last year’s centre-left voters now being critical of the government.
Mr Prodi may get some consolation from the fact that a year after the centre-right’s victory in 2001, opinion polls for Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition showed equally poor results. However, it needs to be taken into account that the first year of Mr Berlusconi’s government (2001-2002) was characterized by a global economic downturn whereas Mr Prodi inherited a strong international recovery which should have made life for his government much easier.
Still more worrying, from the centre-left’s point of view, is the lack of enthusiasm for the Partito Democratico (Pd) which is meant to be founded in October and will be made up of the Democratici di Sinistra (Ds) and the Margherita. According to the Corriere della Sera, the Pd would only pull about 23-24 percent of the vote whereas the Ds and the Margherita as separate parties would score 25-26 percent together. Thus, the new party which was supposed to reinvigorate the Italian centre-left might actually be a political own goal.
Apart from being unhappy with their government, Italians also show a widespread disappointment with parliament and with the political class in general. No less than 80 percent believe that politicians have no interest in the real problems of the country and that they are only interested in the people’s votes. Furthermore, 58 percent of those surveyed say that they feel “mistrust, disgust or anger” towards the country’s politicians and 25 percent simply feel completely indifferent about the current political situation.