03 December, 2012

The oldies are back

Primaries are a new thing for Italy, where political leaders, as in last century's British Conservative party, have tended to emerge rather than go through some electoral process. Now in Italy they are all the rage, and kicking off the proceedings for next spring's general election is the Left. I say the Left rather than the Partito Democratico because it is traditional in this land of small parties and proportional representation that anyone who feels himself important enough sets up his own political grouping or party, which might well ally itself with the mainstream. You haven't a clue as to the name of their party until election day.

The race got down to a run-off between veteran Pier Luigi Bersani, 61 and the newcomer Mayor of Florence Matteo Renzi, 37. Bersani won easily, 61% - 39%. Personally I think the last thing Italy needs is these members of the old guard: the population is crying out for something new, hence the popularity of comedian Beppe Grillo.

And the worst thing is that, according to the Corriere della Sera, Bersani's win will encourage Silvio Berlusconi, 76, to stand again. His party, the PdL, has not yet had its primary because he has been dithering on whether to put his name forward. Otherwise, its leader would be Angelino Alfano, 42. The upshot is that there will be more pressure on Monti, no spring chicken himself who will be 70 at the time of the next election, to stand.

Really, the Italian voter deserves better than this, to drop the contest between a 37 year old and a 42 year old in favour of a couple of ancients, a 63 year old comedian holding the balance of power and people yearning for a septuagenarian who doesn't much like the democratic process.

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