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To Rome and back

People often comment the quality of Italian politics. They usually refer to Berlusconi, the clownesque prime minister of that country. And I indeed wonder how his compatriots can take him seriously. But Italy seems to survive and society has remained vibrant. Sometimes too much. Especially on the left of the political spectre where too many parties have tried to occupy the ground which plays into the hands of the conservatives.

People often comment the quality of Italian politics. They usually refer to Berlusconi, the clownesque prime minister of that country. And I indeed wonder how his compatriots can take him seriously. But Italy seems to survive and society has remained vibrant. Sometimes too much. Especially on the left of the political spectre where too many parties have tried to occupy the ground which plays into the hands of the conservatives.

 

Some years ago several parties (former communists, progressive liberals and christian democrats) decided to change this situation and constituted the Democratic Party, inspired by the Democrats of the USA. It was an attempt to create a two-party system. So far with limited success. This is partly due to the unclear ideological profile of the new formation that tries to be centre and left at the same time. This explains why the DP has not yet decided which international to join: social-democrat or liberal. I find it all an interesting experiment and can think of some countries where it should be copied.

 

I flew to Rome to participate in a seminar about globalisation. That is not so special but for the fact that it was organised by one of the leading candidates for the top job of the DP.  There is a real contest and primaries are an important part of the race which involves as many people as possible and reduces the influence of the party militants. 'My' candidate, Pier Luigi Bersani, organised the seminar to show that he takes international politics seriously. Of course we (me and an expert from Brookings) did not endorse any candidate, but it struck me that Bersani's opponents accuse him of being a social-democrat! That is how I would describe myself. My flight is being called.

 

 

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