Alex Massie

Italy: Screwed-up but not as screwed as you think

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Matt Yglesias writes:

For such a nice country, Italy's politics seem weirdly screwed up. There's the famous instability of the governments, of course. And then there's the fact that their main right-of-center party is led by the legendarily corrupt Silvio Berlusconi. And then there's the fact that despite the broadly discreditable nature of Berlusconi, the left-of-center bloc can never seem to stop him from coming back to power.

Well, yes and, as is so often the case, no. I don't know what correlation there is between a country's niceness and the screwyness of its politics, but itt's true that foreigners of all stripes enjoy their occasional surveys of Italian politics. Certainly no commentary can avoid having fun with the "famous instability" of their governments. But like so much in Italy, appearances are somewhat deceptive. For most of the post-Word War 2 period Italian politics were bedeviled by too much stability, not too little.

It used to be said of Irish rugby that though the situation in other countries might often be serious it was never hopeless, in Ireland it was often hopeless but never serious. Well, as in Irish rugby so in Italian politics. At least until recently...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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