We are in Italy. Sicily, actually. And we are watching something amazing: an Italian revolution. The new Parliament, sworn in yesterday, does not have a single member who calls himself “communist.” That’s the first time since World War II. Gianfranco Fini, the new speaker of the House, announced that the post-war era was over, and he was entirely right. No one knows it better than he, because for most of his adult life he has been called a “fascist,” and scorned by most of the writers, salon hangers-on, and politicians in the country, even though he led his right-wing party through a profound transformation from its neo-fascist past, embraced Israel, actively supported Jewish causes, and challenged the Left’s ostentatious support of radical antisemitic and anti-Israel terrorists. He dissolved his own party into Berlusconi’s umbrella organization, and is now one of the three most powerful politicians in the country. Wow.
There is more. In the last few days, the city of Rome fell to the Right. Once again, the leader was a former neo-fascist, Gianni Alemanno, who had abandoned the bad old ways. Alemanno defeated one of the Left’s most adored icons, Francesco Rutelli, who had twice before been elected mayor of Rome and who was heavily favored to win again. But Alemanno won by a huge margin, just as Berlusconi on the national level.
Why has all this happened? Above all, it is the result of the demonstrated incompetence of the Left to govern Italy effectively, along with the usual corruption scandals, and the Left’s snooty disregard for law and order, particularly regarding illegal immigrants. The people I’ve spoken to (in Sicily the Right also won an overwhelming victory) all basically said the same thing: the Left is a disaster, let’s see if these other guys can do better. It is not an ideological transformation; it’s above all a search for someone who can advance the interests of most Italians.
It’s kind of a Casey Stengel election. The Italian voters are asking if anyone around here knows how to play this game.