As a very split senate prepares to vote the refinancing of Italy’s military mission in Afghanistan on tuesday, Prime Minister Prodi feigns confidence: “I am not worried. I want to see who will take on himself the responsibility to vote against”. The premier’s optimism seems to stem from the belief that neither the pacifist extreme left, itself part of the coalition, nor the pro-american opposition will vote against the continuation of Italy’s mission.
Indeed, a defeat in today’s vote would imply a clear and strong delegitimization of the cabinet’s foreign policy, possibly leading to the request, from the opposition, to hold new elections. A blow to the government would also be a scenario in which the legislative measure passed thanks to the vote of the rightist parties with the radical left movements voting against.
However, despite the many threats from the opposition to vote against the refinancing – its leader, Berlusconi, after declaring several times that his party’s support should not be taken for granted, finally decided to abstain – the measure is likely to pass.
Indeed, on one hand, a government’s defeat would send it home along with its most radical components who never once showed to be willing to sacrifice power on the altar of their much flaunted pacifist principles. On the other hand, the opposition is not likely to disown a mission initiated by the former Berlusconi government who’s strong transatlantic partnership has always been one of its strongest arguments. Such a move would weaken its credibility by showing no scruples to lay down its long upheld foreign policy for domestic tactical political reasons, and possibly bring to early elections for which both political sides don’t seem ready.