Next Sunday Italians will vote to change the composition of the two houses of parliament: the "lower" Camera dei Deputati and "upper" Senato della Repubblica. And as often happens with Italian politics, things are complicated. So, despite this site is mostly visited for other reasons than trivialities about politics in foreign countries, I thought I would provide here my own short-sighted, biased panorama of the situation.
Italy was led until the end of 2011 by Silvio Berlusconi, who had to resign under strong pressure due to the emerging stories of his sexual relationship with underage girls and his frequent parties with prostitutes. From then until now, the premier has been Mario Monti, an economist who was supported by both main parties, the democratic party led by Pierluigi Bersani and Berlusconi's own "polo delle liberta'", and whose agenda had a limited scope: putting Italy back on track and averting an impending economic downfall. This much apparently Monti did achieve, at least temporarily; however, much more work is needed to stabilize the fragile Italian economy.
As for Berlusconi, one would think that Italians would finally turn their backs to the old media tycoon upon receiving abundant and unmistakable proof that he wants the chair of premier only to continue to favour his own private interests and entertain himself as he pleases without the fear of being prosecuted. Polls show that this has happened only in part: his electoral campaign has been based on promises bordering the corruption, such as the one of "giving back in cash" some of the tax money that Monti had collected from taxes on real estate, or to grant another "condono tombale" (tombal remission) to tax frauds and other misdemeanors, which appear to pay off.
The other main players in the game are the democratic party, which despite the very favourable moment and the crisis of the Right might not manage to collect a stable majority in both houses, due to the complex electoral system; Monti's own party (the outgoing premier decided to stay on the scene "to save Italy", and joined forces with the christian democrats of Pierferdinando Casini and the ex-fascists led by Gianfranco Fini), which is credited with some 10% of the votes; and a "popular" movement directed by a comedian, Beppe Grillo, which might even reach some 15-20% of votes.
Grillo is a comedian turned blogger turned leader of a political movement. Italians like him despite his "Movimento cinque stelle" shows total lack of internal democracy (he decides everything together with his counselor Casaleggio) and a confuse electoral program, centered on the promise to "send back home" the existing caste of politicians and to make politics cleaner. His populist way of building consensus bears some similarities with that of the early Berlusconi, and indeed he has been fishing consensus in the disintegrating "polo delle liberta'" in the course of the last few years.
If next week Grillo's "Movimento cinque stelle" really reaches 20% of votes, Italy will again be in a stalemate: a country impossible to lead. A government would require the forming of a coalition between parties which have declaredly nothing in common, so the Greek scenario of calling elections once again, while Italy slides toward an economic catastrophe, would appear on the table. Yet perhaps the most probable outcome would then be the forming of another "National Unity" government, led by somebody who remained out of the political fight. Montezemolo, Draghi, who knows. As for long-term prospects of stability and economic growth, this is unfortunately not in the destiny of Italy.