Italy’s oft controversial ex-prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is doing his level best to ensure his PdL party earns as many votes as possible in Italy’s upcoming elections. He’s even embracing honesty, almost.
Berlusconi is going so far as to attempt to select some candidates who are not mixed up in past or present legal tangles. In theory, Berlusconi who has a conviction and is mixed up in at least three other court battles, should exclude himself.
In Italy, party leaders choose who they want to form part of their governments – should they manage to win elections. Voters simply rubber stamp the choices.
The candidates who are not, generally, selected via primaries, are placed on a list. The winning party will then assign the lucky listed few positions in the new government. Positions such as minister of this and that or undersecretary of whatever. Rampant cronyism plays a big part in the compilation of these lists.
Recently, Italy’s centre-left has discovered the joys of primaries and the current leader is the product of one such primary.
Berlusconi talked about holding primaries, named a date, and then decided, for reasons unknown, that primaries would not be a good idea. This means Berlusconi can choose more or less who he wants to stand for election as part of his PdL party.
Of Dubious Character? No Problem in Italy!
That candidates either have previous convictions or are of somewhat dubious character had never been an issue in Italy until these elections.
Now, Italians are to be offered candidates who are of ‘good character’. This is partly because a law will soon require this, and also because Italy’s political parties have decided that proposing candidate-convicts is not a good idea.
Comedian activist Beppe Grillo highlighted just how many of those sitting in Italy’s parliament were either convicted criminals or under investigation. It looks as if Grillo did manage to draw attention to the matter which is why Italy’s political parties are now scrabbling to present clean lists.
Italy’s center left and Mario Monti have made it clear that their candidate lists will be free of those either under investigation or who have convictions.
Now it seems, Silvio Berlusconi, has decided to jump on the honest candidate bandwagon. This is probably not because it is the right thing to to, indeed, Berlusconi has said that those members of his party who are mixed up in a few court cases are victims, like himself, of persecution.
Honest Votes to Be Earned
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
The real reason why Berlusconi wants to present ‘clean’ lists is simply that the polls Berlusconi lives by must be showing that proposing honest candidates is a vote earner.
Reportedly, Berlusconi is having a hard time convincing some of the bad boys to back down and not seek re-election.
Berlusconi has been trying to persuade some of his current party members and MPs not to insist on being included in his lists, only not all of those are prepared to do as they are asked. The state of Berlusconi’s lists is therefore, and as reported by Italy’s press, chaotic.
This is not much of a surprise, for as pointed out before Berlusconi who is mixed up in more than a few legal tangles should really exclude himself his own list and not stand for election. He won’t though.
At this late stage – elections are due to held in little more than a month – just who will form part of Berlusconi’s election bid is unclear.
Even so, some dubious names have come to the fore. One such name is that of ex-president of the Italian region of Lombardy, Roberto Formigioni who is suspected of receiving expensive gifts in return for awarding lucrative contracts.
Formigoni denies this, even if the evidence mounting up would appear to indicate the contrary. Still, innocent until proven guilty. Despite these investigations and other shadows surrounding the affairs of Formigoni, Berlusconi wants to hand him a nice safe seat in Italy’s senate. Arresting Italian MPs is not at all easy.
Payback Time for Friendly Media Manipulator
Another person of dubious character Berlusconi would like his supporters to elect is the ex director of the RAI 1 television news service who is suspected of fiddling his expenses. The person concerned, one Augusto Minzolini gave the RAI news broadcasts a Berlusconi friendly slant. The seat in Italy’s parliament is probably a form of reward for services rendered.
Anyone Can Be Nominated
That party leaders can more or less nominate who they want and place their names on these electoral lists is how Silvio Berlusconi managed to insert his lawyers in Italy’s national parliament, and his dental hygienist Nicole Minetti in local government.
Surprisingly, well it was a surprise for me, nobody seems to worry about the conflict of interests or ethical aspects of a nation’s prime minister having two of his top lawyers sitting in Italy’s parliament. I have already written about this curious state of affairs.
Italy’s odd electoral system may be reformed after the February elections – but do not go holding your breath.