So the national election results seem pretty clear now:
In the lower house, Berlusconi's PdL will have 276 seats to 217 for Veltroni & the PD. Meanwhile the centre-left ally, Italia dei Valori, has taken 29. The remnants of the Christian Democrats, the UDC, will have 36 while, horribly, the Lega Nord have a full 60 deputies. The southern/ Sicilian equivalent of the Northern seperatists (though politically considerably more moderate than the Lega) have taken 8 seats, to complete the PdL/Lega alliance.
In the Senate, Berlusconi's alliance will have 174 to just 132 for Veltroni. To these are added 3 UDC senators, 7 life senators and 6 others of one kind or another.
Of course, the PdL comprises within it not just Forza Italia but Alleanza Nazionale: this means that it covers a full spectrum of moderate centre-right through to outright "post"-fascists and ex-adherents of the MSI. People like Gianfranco Fini, who has been attacked by former allies for their excessive "moderation" (Fini denounced the Holocaust as an "absolute evil" produced by Fascism. The loony lefty.)
On the right, therefore, apart from Casini's UDC, the only people outside Berlusca's umbrella are the truly loony fringe parties, most notably La Destra, led by the somewhat toadlike and fantastically loathsome Francesco Storace. (Not to be confused, of course, with Starace who is wholly different. Honest.) Berlusconi is "centre-right" because here in Italy we do have real Fascists - La Destra, Movimento Sociale Fiamma Tricolore, Alessandra Mussolini's Azione Sociale (which is incidentally part of the PdL), Forza Nuova, Fronte Nazionale, Azione Giovane, must I go on? The casual accusations of "fascism" which are often bandied about in other countries don't wash here, and tend to annoy me.
Anyway, in better news (perhaps directly related to Berlusconi's rash decision to insult Totti) the PdL has done very poorly in the Roman mayoral race and in the provincial election. Though the PdL took the Lazio region overall, it was fairly close, and Romans have shown a strong preference for Veltroni, an unprecedentedly popular and successful mayor here. Both provincial and mayoral elections are going to a second round, since the PD has a 6 or 7 point lead at most, and the rules require a majority. But the signs are positive at least locally.
Anyway, ignoring the really crucial questions about Berlusconi, a reader asks whether he might "tackle some of the problems with Serie A (crumbling stadiums, low crowds, violence, lack of money)?"
Well, I haven't had a chance to ask him myself but my guess would be a big fat nooooooooo. Not least because most of the policies which appeal to governments on these issues are unlikely to actually work in practice, and because attention is only paid to the problem when someone dies. And also because I am plunged into profound gloom about what will happen over the next few years.