Monday, 28 April 2008

Election Update (II)

The second round of voting has more or less been counted, for those provinces and cities whose initial results were indecisive. Rome voted again yesterday and today for both province and municipality. The PD has, it appears, retained the province. But for the first time in almost 20 years, there will be a right-wing mayor of Rome. Rutelli has failed to win himself a third term in office, and instead we will now have Gianni Alemanno, of the "post"-fascist Alleanza Nazionale.

Alemanno, for those who don't know him, is a former leader of the MSI's youth wing, and a close ally of Fini. In those years he also worked closely with the so-delightful Storace, previously mentioned. He has been arrested on suspicion of acts of political violence a number of occasions, though with no conclusive outcome; in fairness I should mention that given the profound corruption and political agenda which has historically existed in certain judicial and police circles, this is not in itself a sign of anything much.

His policies for Rome, along with discussing waste disposal (avoiding turning into Naples), childcare (more of it), pollution (less of it) and public transport (er... continuing the successful policies of his predecessor Veltroni), include as a matter of urgency "expelling 20,000 illegal immigrants from the city". Lots of talk about crime and immigrants. Oh joy. Somehow this has depressed me more than the general election even.

There is a murky and unpleasant background to this: on 16 April a student from Lesotho was raped near the station of La Storta, a northern suburb of Rome. She was rescued by a pair of Italian passersby who became much vaunted press heroes in the following days. The man accused is a Romanian, who was painted by initial reports as a "typical" feckless immigrant living in one of the many illegal shanty-towns here.

But odd things have begun to emerge. The accused, surprisingly for a jobless homeless immigrant, is being represented by a very well-known and vastly expensive lawyer. Who has demanded (and been granted) time for a psychiatric assessment which prevents any further questioning of his client for the next 3 weeks (i.e. til safely after the election). One of the two Italians who reported the crime, meanwhile, is part of Alemanno's law & order mob, turning up on campaign platforms with him. While having a criminal record of his own. Oh, and the two knights in shinign armour didn't call the police...they just waited til they bumped into a carabinieri patrol and mentioned it to them. Now, this might very well be all irrelevant paranoia (though Italy teaches cynicism in such matters). But when you consider that crime & immigration & the fraught nexus between the two have been one of the single largest issues in Alemanno's victory, you have to at least wonder.


ursus arctos said...

Crap, crap, crap.

I've been afraid to look at the results since the early ones were running against Rutelli.

There's always Bologna . . .

And thanks for the background on that incident; the aftermath was setting off my native New Yorker bullshit detector, let alone the more finely-tuned verison I've developed here.

ginkers said...

It is hard not to be suspicious of everything...

Lee (Liga Review) said...

I love the way all of the British media refer to him as a 'former neo fascist' - what is one of those?

I would have thought that someone advocating the expulsion of foreigners probably deserves neither the 'former' not the 'neo' tag.

Garibaldy said...

That place is making you paranoid.

Antonio Gurrado said...

(Still celebrating)

Well Spangly I dare say Alemanno is the first rightwinged mayor of Rome since the Republic (1946).

That's historical for me.


chris c paul said...

Holy fuck. I always saw Rome as a left wing bastion, flawed, but of the left none the less.

European politics are banking sharply to the right generally. I mean, 4 years ago would anyone have considered Boris Johnson as a potential London mayor?

It is all sad. Berlusconi should be a political footnote, having spent most of his time wriggling out of corruption charges. Instead it appears he is leading one of Italy's most extreme right wing governments for a longtime.

Spangly Princess said...

Lee, that's a good question.

Fini's brand of "post-Fascism" tends to mean "economically and socially fascist but with an acceptance of democracy and a denuciation of the Holocaust." Denouncing the Holocaust is all a bit lefty and soft for some, they would regard themselves as "proper" neofascists.

G: there were a couple of DC mayors here and there, I think.

Garibaldy said...

Did Berlusconi say we are the new falange (as quoted in the article on the Roman mayor in comment is free) after this election? If so, I hope the EU will now treat Italy the way it did Austria after Haider's party entered the government.

La luta continua.

Spangly Princess said...

loath though I am to defend Berlusconi, I think Hooper is a trifle disingenuous there.

A direct translation of what he said is that, referring to Alemanno's celebrations, he said "I saw that there were some centurions there [guys in costume who work inat the colosseo? at a guess?] and I thought to myself, we are the new Roman phalanx."

Now there are clear overtones here in that the use of Roman military terminology is inherently now associated with the far right, and the term falange does mean Falange as well as phalanx. but I don't think he was being quite so direct as all that.

in fact, I think he was making a joke. admittedly, of a fairly unpleasant kind.

ursus arctos said...

Agreed with Spangles, that is the kind of thing that passes for humour with Silvio.

And compared to the fascist salutes in the Campidiglio last night and Bossi going on about having "300,000 martyrs" ready with their "rifles still being warm", it almost seems benign.

Povera Italia.

Antonio Gurrado said...

Spangly, Spangly, I forgot you weren't Italian - Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democrats) were not right (in both senses).

The right in Italy was MSI, then DN, then AN, now PdL.

And today, Fini. I fear I can't face the emotion.


chris c paul said...

"Fini's brand of "post-Fascism" tends to mean "economically and socially fascist but with an acceptance of democracy and a denuciation of the Holocaust."

Isn't branding this as post-fascist itself a version of right wing revisionism. Admitting a historical reality and paying lip service to democracy is hardly soft, or post anything, just pragmatic. the ideology has not fundamentally developed at all. All we have is a shift of rhetoric. 'The enemy within' is no longer the Jew. It is the immigrant.

While less violent and ostensibly extremist I find this brand of fascism as detestable and spurious as the traditional kind.

another joe said...

Looks scary, Spangles. I could not imagine someone of the likes of Alemmeno winning a mayoral election in a big city here in the US. There is some right wing, anti-immigrant sentiment in the Republican Party, but nothing like this.

So how much "facist", anti-immigrant, right wing sentiment is there in Italy?

Guido said...

While I agree with Chris, I think we need to look at the whole picture here.

I see these elections (both the political and the Rome ones) as another chapter of Italy slow development into a modern political state (which it is not as yet).

Italy was never able to develop a proper 'right-left' dimension after the WWII due to the cold war. The left was in grand part created by the Communist Party which was seen as an anathema by the NATO powers and would never been allowed to be the government.

There was never a 'real right' in Italy. To avoid the communists, a series of whishy washy centre coalition governments held by the Christian Democrats run Italy, often with disastrous results. But a large part of the political spectrum was locked in fairly extremist positions either by the right (MSI 'neo-fascists if you like) and the Communist Party on the left.

At the end of the Cold War the whole shabang collaped and new political forms were introduced.

The positive thing out of this is that the previously extremist parties have moved to the centre. We have seen this with the Communists which we can see with Veltroni but also on the right.

Now I am decisively from the left (I was a member of the Australian Labor Party, but left because it wasn't 'left' enough for me) and the policies of Alleanza Nazionale are an anathema to me.

However I must say that the success of Fini and Berlusconi to shift the old 'neo-fascist MSI towards the centre and creating a more centre right party is a good result for Italian democracy as a whole.

Yes, I am sure that Fini and Alemanno would have said and acted in ways that now would be unacceptable in today's Italy. But even some PD people threw molotovs at police in the 60's.

It was a very heated time and a time where the Italian political system was still recovering from 20 years of dictatorship and being in the midst of a cold war.

I think things are different now. I can see some people from the Anglosphere, which have had stable democracies for some time throw their hands in the air and shout 'fascist have taken over Rome!' but that is not the case.

I hope the Left in Italy gets its shit together though

Spangly Princess said...

Gurrado: the DC may not have seemed right to you but they looked pretty right from where I'm standing. We can at least agree that whatever they were, they were wrong.

I would agree that moves towards the centre away from extremism are a good thing, but I question the sincerity of such moves. At the AN annual rally in 2006 the official merchandising stall, in addition to selling books by & about Fini et al, was also selling print-offs of Mussolini's speeches, and tat liberally adorned with his picture. Where's the "post" in this post-fascism, please?

Of course many current politicians on the left have less than delightful pasts. Veltroni, while a PCI member, was never I think ideologically a communist.

More than "not a modern political state" I would say that Italy is still not a proper democracy. Oh, in form sure, but not in spirit. I think it will take a long time. Mistrust of the state is so huge and also so logical under the circumstances.

The Cold War has a lot to answer for, here. *glares at US*

It's worth bearing in mind too that regional differences are still significant (a pal of mine recently described Tuscany as "Europe's last Soviet state".... perhaps I should move)

Garibaldy said...

Most members of the PCI were never ideologically Communists. And what's the implied suggestion that being a communist is disreputable? You're a military historian. Who defeated fascism again. You've been hanging out with the Ultras too long :)