Staying with Berlusconi or staying with no one?

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Staying with Berlusconi or staying with no one?

05 Marzo 2009

“Silvio Berlusconi is the PdL. A real project of the Popolo della Libertà does not exist, that is only centered on his extraordinary leadership. In a way, the PdL is just an enlargement of the Forza Italia party.”

This is what Pierferdinando Casini (leader of the center coalition Udc and former ally to Il Cavaliere) said the other day on tv.  He went on: “the Pdl – which is going to have its congress  – has all my respect, but it’s a dead-end party, and that is Silvio Berlusconi”.  By stating that the Pdl is just  “an enlargement of Forza Italia party”, Casini was trying to underline the fact that, by creating the Pdl, Il Cavaliere has realized a broad coalition of political forces aimed at governing the country. This party, therefore, doesn’t have a precise political project, according to the leader of Udc (Unione dei Democratici Cristiani e Democratici di Centro).

Fabrizio Cicchito, group leader of the Pdl at the Chamber of Deputies, has described the goals of Berlusconi’s party in an interview with the Roman daily Il Messaggero:

“We are trying to create a presidential party in which the leader must have the power to take the initiative ant that power must not be entangled in the strict mechanism of a party”, said Cicchitto. “Presidentialism – he added – is one of the goals for an institutional reform upon which Forza Italia and Alleanza Nazionale (Fini’s party) have developed their [political]elaboration”.

So, presidentialism is the key world for PdL’s political ambitions. A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides (hence the name) separately from the legislature, to which it is not accountable and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it.

In a presidential system of government there is a separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branch. The United States have a presidential government, the French one is a semi-presidential Republic while the Italian one is a parliamentary Republic.

So, there is a actual political project inside this party. Also, in case this is a "dead-end party" that will vanish right after’s Berlusconi’s retirement, just as Casini claimed, there could be no fight over its future leadership. Although, this is exactly what’s happening in Italy right now: a fight over PdL’s future. As usual, this clash has two factions. The first one being the “applause faction”, the second one being the “secret scrutiny faction”.

The “applause faction” is a group of politicians very close to Berlusconi, we could name Maurizio Gasparri (group leader of the Pdl at the Senate), Gaetano Quagliariello (deputy group leader, Senate), Fabrizio Cicchitto (group leader at the Chamber of Deputies) and Italo Bocchino (Cicchito’s right hand). They are in favor of a old fashioned vote: how many members of the party will raise their hands when Il Cavaliere will be presented on March 27th? That number will reveal the leader of the party.

The other faction is represented by Gianni Alemanno, major of Rome and former primadonna of Alleanza Nazionale, Gianfranco Fini’s party. Alemanno would rather elect the leader via a secret scrutiny, that means creating a record to be used in the future. In other words Alemanno is not exactly contrasting Berlusconi’s leadership, he just wants  to put pressure on him and make this chess match more open. This is about power and how to use it: Alemanno is playing for his Boss, Gianfranco Fini, the one and only alternative to Berlusconi inside the PdL. The major of Rome is, indeed, also playing on two different time schedules: present and future. In today’s political life his goals is to reduce Berlusconi’s power, while for the future, is he is trying to make space for Fini who might in fact end up being the new leader of the PdL, only after Berlusconi’s retirement of course.

So, the PdL seems to have a very precise political project that goes by the name of presidentialism and it is formed by a group of charismatic people. Why then, Pierferdinando Casini  said that this party only has one leader (Berlusconi) and once he will retire from political life his party will vanish? Maybe be because  -as it is today – the PdL is the only credible political coalition existing in Italy. In which case Casini was just trying to dist Berlusconi’s party in order to get some credit for himself. At least this is what some political analysts agree on.

On March 27th, the PdL will officially choose its leader  – Silvio Berlusconi -and it will officially become the only credible political coalition in Italy. The Italian left is in fact struggling with its internal problems and the centre is virtually disappeared after the “clean hands” revolution of the early nineties. This is a great concern for all the politicians of our country. Either you stay with Berlusconi or you stay with no one.