Sunday, February 23, 2003

Old Europe, New Alliances

Iraq crisis is causing strange political re-alignments not only in Croatia (where one right-wing opposition party, HSLS, came out strongly against the war, while another, HDZ, came out strongly for war) but in other countries as well.

According to this story, Silvio Berlusconi's government is going to experience another crisis. RAI Due, one of the three state television networks, is going to be relocated from Rome to Milan, which represents Berlusconi's concession to Umberto Bossi, leader of secessionist Lega Nord, one of three major partners in Italy's right-wing coalition. Bossi sees that as a first step for creation of a television network of independent state of Padania.

However, another of Berlusconi's partner, Giancarlo Fini, leader of post-fascist party Alleanza Nazionale, see that differently – as giving too much power to Northern secessionist, especially since Lega Nord already controls RAI through its representatives within RAI Board of Directors. So, Fini has approached opposition ex-Communists to give him necessary votes to replace Board of Directors.

This alliance, that brings together descendants of Fascists with descendants of Communists is partially motivated with the way RAI handled anti-war marches. RAI refused to air the marches live, so ex-Communists want some heads rolled. Bossi, on the other hand, warns that this alliance could mean the end of present government.

Squabbling over television is relatively new phenomenon in Italian politics. In good old times distribution of power within RAI was stable – right-wing Christian Democrats controlled RAI Uno, their eternal co-alition partners Socialists controlled RAI Due, while opposition Communists had the leftovers in the form of RAI Tre – network based on regional and sports programmes.

But today Italian politics is much more complex and even less predictable than it used to be. Christian Democrats and Socialists vanished, and Italians used the opportunity created with new electoral system to change the government at each elections, just like they French neighbours are doing for past two decades. So, the power structures within RAI became less stable and each new government must purge the administration from the cadre left by their ideologically opposite predecessors. And Berlusconi's government is hardly as stable as those in Craxi years – instead of two major parties – Christian Democrats and Socialists – it is composed of three blocks that usually can't stand each other.

It is too early to say whether this television crisis would bring down Italian government, but it bares striking resemblances with the processes that wrecked the coalition government of its trans-Adriatic neighbour.


Post a Comment

<< Home