Category ►►► Europa Political Grand Opera
January 20, 2010
The Exception That Tests the Rule
For anyone who still denies either the rightness or existence of "American exceptionalism," consider this appalling story:
Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders sat in the defendant's dock Wednesday, nodding his head as prosecutors read aloud a hundred remarks he has made condemning Islam, Muslims and immigrants -- notably one comparing the Quran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf."
Wilders' criminal trial for allegedly inciting hate against Muslims has resonance across Europe: He is one of a dozen right-wing politicians on the continent who are testing the limits of freedom of speech while voicing voters' concerns at the growth of Islam.
For the tendentious phrasing, "the growth of Islam," read the more accurate "the growth of Islamism." If Moslems were coming to the Netherlands and assimilating, as they do for the most part in the United States, I honestly doubt Geert Wilders would have such a problem with them. But because of the liberal socialism of Western Europe, a member of the Dutch parliament is now on trial for properly representing his own constituents.
Here is the philosophical sequence:
- Liberal socialism ("Stalinism lite") has infected Western Europe for many decades. (One could make a good argument that Otto Eduard Leopold prince von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor" of Prussia, invented it in the latter half of the nineteenth century.) Note, this is not liberal fascism; it's the internationalist version. Hence the European Union, the first step on the liberal-socialist (lib-soc) road to global government.
- A primary element of liberal socialism is atheism; lib-soc governments persecute Judeo-Christian religions and to a lesser extent frown upon all other religions: Their religion is "secular humanism" -- that is, the First Church of Fundamentalist Materialism, as Robert Anton Wilson used to put it.
- A secondary effect of official and widespread Fundamentalist Materialism is a dramatic and frightening drop in the regional fertility rate. We can explore the "whys" in more depth another time if folks find the connection puzzling; suffice to say that Western Europe is not replacing its population, hence must import truly staggering levels of immigrant labor.
- Since Europe must draw from those cultures that have a high fertility rate for their foreign labor pool, they tend to draw disproportionately from Moslem populations in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Turkey, and Morocco. For example, in the Netherlands, six percent of the labor pool are Moslems from the latter two countries. (If the same ratio applied in the United States, we would have 9.25 million Moslem immigrants in the civilian labor pool, or about eight to ten times the level we actually have.)
- Another primary element of lib-soc is authoritarianism; socialist states are authoritatian by definition.
- One secondary effect of authoritarianism is that the government not only does not encourage immigrants to assimilate, it typically doesn't allow them to. Instead, immigrants are shunted into enclaves and ghettos and generally treated as "the help," rather than as full citizens... even those who were actually born in the "host" country. Generation after generation can be born in some European countries, but none is considered a full citizen.
- Such "apartness" leads inevitably to a great many immigrants seeing themselves as transients and foreigners in the land of their birth; they often turn against the "host" with a vengeance, rioting and looting, sealing off areas and declaring them "liberated" from the host and instead under the laws -- or the imagined laws -- of the rioters' ancestral countries. For the most obvious example, Moslem "immigrants" may seal off the Moslem enclaves and declare them under sharia law, instead of French, Dutch, or Spanish law. (The same dynamic of separation from the rest of society leads to criminal behavior among native-born full citizens.)
- Yet another aspect of authoritarianism is that, for all their high-minded hectoring of the rest of the world, socialist countries do not actually protect freedom of speech. (This claim should not even be controversial.)
- Ergo, put everything together, and we have the situation in the Netherlands, which applies in a great many other European countries as well: The country has a real, serious, and growing problem with estranged and disaffected Moslem youths; but hate-speech codes make it a criminal offense to discus the disastrous failure of the government's social policy, even by members of parliament.
It's a prescription for catastophe. It could never happen in Ronald Reagan's or George W. Bush's America because of individualism, assimilation, and community; I fear it may be all too plausible in Barack H. Obama's America.
The solution to this terrible dilemma is quite beyond the capacity of any socialist country; but it's the essence, the very core, of American exceptionalism (or simple Americanism):
- Allow immigrants to assimilate;
- Encourage, urge, and demand that they assimilate;
- Require that they be assimilable before letting them immigrate in the first place;
- And treat them exactly like every other American citizen when they do assimilate and naturalize themselves.
This is the ideal, however imperfectly it can be applied in the real world. Alas that we have an immigration system biased against assimilation; and we have two prevailing ideologies, neither of which is geared towards assimilation for different reasons: The Left doesn't want aliens to assimilate because lib-socs tend to dislike America and all it stands for; while the Right doesn't want aliens to come here at all, by and large, because they understand assimilation is a two-way street.
Like the Borg, when we assimilate an immigrant, we add his cultural "memes" to American culture. That's one reason we're such a powerful and irresistable force for social change throughout the world... and it's a positive characteristic, not a necessary evil.
But I think I fight a lonely war on this issue.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
June 26, 2008
An Immodest Proposition, or the Last Prejudice
Today, Spain's parliament took a historic first step in righting a wrong that has persisted for decades. Nay, centuries. Nay, millennia. Nay, decamillennia. Nay, ever since the ancestors of homo sapiens (sapiens) first branched away from our hairy brothers and sisters, cruelly pushing them back into the primordial soup with all the generosity and altruism of Bill Clinton rifling the tin cup of a blind beggar.
But yesterday, at long last, the Socialist government of Spain broke the fur ceiling, granting full legal rights of life and liberty to apes:
Spain's parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called for such rights for non-humans.
Parliament's environmental committee approved resolutions urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to humans.
Presumably, this would include habeas corpus.
Every since this blog was created, we have championed the rights of cerebrally challenged species to enjoy the same level of civilization to which we have become accustomed. While it may be true that apes cannot build buildings, design electrical power plants and canals, or mass-produce Priuses, it is no less true that we have only done so on the backs of other species.
Where would public transportation have been, without the hard-working horse? Which great scientific breakthroughs would have been hatched, absent the loyal dog? And what great monuments to modern architecture could we have built, were it not for the stalwart and sturdy rhinoceros?
"This is a historic day in the struggle for animal rights and in defense of our evolutionary comrades, which will doubtless go down in the history of humanity," said Pedro Pozas, Spanish director of the Great Apes Project.
But as tremendous an ethical breakthrough as this was -- I believe I read that Barack H. Obama has already begun rehearsing his spontaneous support for the Project -- still, it doesn't go far enough. As it stands, Spain still does not extend full rights to our arboreal chums.
Protecting life and liberty is fine and good; but that still leaves our simian siblings at the mercy of the to-ing and fro-ing of politics, adrift in a sea of uncertainty, unable to affect the most basic parliamentary decisions that affect the quality of apish life. Like gay caballeros in the 1950s (or Sephardic Jews in the 1450s), even under the new law of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and fun-loving baboons still remain merely second-class citizens. It's a step, but still only a first step.
What is missing? What would these simians need to fully realize the glory of their being? Clearly, they lack what finally makes Spanish citizenship full and complete, besides a goodly supply of Amontillado: I can only be referring to the franchise: Spain must begin registering Great Apes as legal voters. (If I'm actually referring to something else, please let me know before I make a fool of myself.)
Now the fuse is lit; there is a new ministry in the Spanish government that compels just such a great (ape) leap forward:
Spain did not legalize divorce until the 1980s, but Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government has legalized gay marriage, reduced the influence of the Catholic Church in education and set up an Equality Ministry.
Full equality! I should think the new Equality Ministry will have an unenviable task justifying why gays, illegal immigrants, and even Catholics are allowed to vote for members of parliament; but that same right is brutally denied to primates (I mean the simian kind, not the Catholic heirarchy). This despite the well-accepted fact that baboons are evolutionary closer to members of the government than any other group of the electorate.
The joyous progression of multi-species, transcendental rights is inevitable, immutable:
- Gay marriage leads directly to reducing the influence of the Church;
- Reducing the influence of that reactionary body points like a laser beam to the understanding that there truly is no difference between animals and humans; if there is a soul, then a gorilla's is every bit as fine as Howard Dean's. Believing anything less would be discriminatory and unconscionable;
- This non-specist consciousness inevitably begets a Ministry of Equality (and of Peace, Truth, and Love);
- The "Equality Ministry" ineluctably leads to monkey manumission;
- But to fully embrace such animal liberty, how can the Equality Ministry fail to offer full equality -- gibbon government, bonobo-ballots, and all?
Of course, the inability to read poses something of a challenge; but we long ago cast aside the outmoded, proto-fascist prejudice against illiterate or stupid voters. As Michelle Obama noted, those in power constantly try to set the bar higher and higher -- you can't vote unless you're rich, unless you can read, unless you're human -- for no reason than to keep themselves on top and everyone else thrashing about in the evolutionary muck.
Creative technology shows us the way around the problem of inability to understand any form of language: For example, neutral, unbiased members of Prime Minister Zapatero's Socialist government could put bits of banana or other yummies into the voting booth to lure the non-human constituent inside. As primates have very acute visual-recognition skills, the booth could contain fair likenesses of the heads of each party; whichever one the baboon or chimpanzee paws or kisses would indicate a vote for that slate.
The world's greatest and deepest international thinkers agree with Spain's political revelation:
Philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri founded the Great Ape Project in 1993, arguing that "non-human hominids" like chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos should enjoy the right to life, freedom and not to be tortured.
Peter Singer is an especially valuable charter member of the Project, for you certainly cannot dismiss him as "ideologically wedded" to the idea of rights. As an ethicist, he has proven his independence of thought by arguing that newborn babies do not yet have the right to life.
Singer writes that the babies' mothers or other proxies (such as university ethicists) should be allowed to retroactively abort them up to a year after birth. This supposed contradiction only lends credence to his current position, placing the rights of simians higher up the ethical food chain than the rights of year-old humans. After all, somebody must be on top; and what refreshing altruism that a expert on ethics is willing to allow another species to assume the apex of the pyramid! Kudos to the good professor. (I'm not sure, but I think "kudos" means a kind of shirt or walk-in closet, rather like a water fountain.)
But if we cannot draw a moral distinction between Man and Ape, how much more difficult is it to draw one between primates and other mammals? There is no logical reason to deny such vital voting rights to the rest of Gaea's creatures... even those without hands.
There is always a way: Dogs can bark their preferences; horses can stamp; porpoises can whistle; cats can stare blankly. And why should having breasts and giving birth to live young determine whether a living creature is to be allowed its inherent rights? Rights are universal... even under the current oppressive American regime, we extend them willy-nilly to bums on the street, unconvicted felons, game-show hosts, butchers, bakers, bloggers, terrorists and other rapscallions, oil executives, panderers, liars, drunkards, candlestick-makers, lawyers, and even actors.
Should we not demand even more democracy from the land of Don Quixote, paella, madeira (my dear), Generalissimo Francisco Franco, and flamenco? There should be no animal on the face of the earth -- except perhaps the snake, which has no legs and is inferior to the lizard -- that is denied the most fundamental right guaranteed by the European Constitution to all who creepeth or crawlith or swimeth or flyeth upon, under, within, or above the face of the earth. (I believe the exact formulation can be found in section 98, subsection 217, clause 84, enumeration 3, explanatory footnote 809 of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, in the footnote-continuation on the next page. But don't quote me.)
Civilization has not yet worked out a way for trees to signal their electoral choices, but Al Gore has recently joined the team, so there is hope for progress on that front. Still, that is an argument for another post.
Howsomever, with courage, vigor, and a genetic sense of what is too serious to be joked about, we will cross this penultimate hurdle... and stand at the threshold of the final interspecies barrier. What is the use of allowing animals to vote if they cannot likewise stand for election?
There will, there must, come a day when we can proudly rise and hail the new EU Minister of Forestry... the divine being, Ms. Koko.
March 28, 2008
Brave Sir Robin vs. the Mosque of England
In recent years, Moslems in the United Kingdom have gotten bolder. Not only do they commit more violent crime against ordinary British citizens, they demand special treatment from the British government ("All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others"). Yet I am now convinced that the core of the problem in Great Britain is not the Moslems but the Church of England itself.
Great Britain has a state religion, and many British subjects look to the established church for moral guidance. The house of God should be an unwavering, unchanging, and uncompromising spiritual core of the people. Even though we humans often cannot meet God's expectations, we're at least supposed to learn through the churches and clergy what He expects of us.
Isn’t that why people are willing to risk their lives for their fellow men, for what's right, or for their faith? Isn’t that why ordinary people will rise up to fight against evil? People should know what is good and what is evil.
But what if the church tells you that the most important thing is to be "tolerant of the intolerant" and instructs its faithful to be "sensitive" to a rogue culture -- one that demands human sacrifice, no less -- simply to avoid "conflict?"
As unbelievable as it sounds, that is just what is happening in the UK, per Tony Blankley:
Two weeks ago, the story came from a town with a college that has been a leading force in the advancement of Christian civilization for 900 years: Oxford, England. Once again, something more than bluebirds threatens English skies. It seems that authorities at the Oxford Central Mosque have requested permission to use loudspeakers to blast the call to prayer five times a day from atop their minaret across the town that has heard for the past 900 summers, falls, winters and springs only the bells of the local churches.
Unsurprisingly, the Church of England's bishop for Oxford, the Right Rev. John Pritchard, has announced his support, calling on his congregation to "enjoy community diversity." He would be a likely successor to the current archbishop of Canterbury, who called for Shariah law for England recently.
It is not so much the attempt by European Muslims to alter their adopted homeland to fit their faith that's troubling as it is the willingness of Europeans to accommodate them. Sharia creep will continue as long as it meets no resistance.
If Christianity's teachings are now to include “diversity” of faith, then why should it even be a separate religion? A broken moral compass points nowhere, and cultural sensitivity to the violent will not buy peace; all you will get is more confusion, more violence, and fewer Christians.
We have long known that the "Moslem Mafia" has been running drugs and coercing underaged girls into prostitution. When parents seek help from the local authorities, British police often refuse to pursue the criminals for fear of being insufficiently sensitive to minority cultures or even provoking racial violence:
Last night Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the police were differentiating between criminals on the basis of race.
He claimed, driven by fear of race riots in places like Blackburn and Oldham, officers were "overtly sensitive" and not clamping down on the sordid practice.
His controversial comments in this week's Panorama reignite a massively controversial issue which exploded over a Channel 4 documentary in 2004.
That programme which claimed Asian men in Bradford were grooming under age white girls for prostitution was pulled from C4's schedules.
This was because police claimed at the time that it could provoke racial violence during the local election campaign.
(Hat tip to Lionheart.)
But it's not just "tolerance" that Moslems demand in Great Britain; some Moslem "youths" are beginning to act more like Hitler Youths, with the children of Pakistani immigrants physically attacking Christian and Jewish worshippers and clergymen:
Canon Ainsworth, 57, who was wearing his clerical collar, was punched and kicked by two Asian youths while another shouted religious abuse outside St George’s on March 5. He suffered cuts, bruises and two black eyes. He was discharged from St Bartholomew’s hospital but later readmitted following complications to an injury.
But British authority does nothing, and church authority coos and placates the aggressors. Actually, that is not entirely true; the rozzers have done something: They've arrested a blogger, Lionheart, for the "crime" of exposing the Moslem crimes above. He was arrested for "stirring up racial hatred" against Moslems.
[Dafydd adds: Thank God the UK has such strong freedom of speech protections...]
Evidently, the UK is less interested in stopping the gradual, frog-boiling takeover of their country by Moslem militants than they are in stopping the mouths of those who speak out against it. When the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali complained about Moslem violence against non-Moslems, he was severly criticized -- even by the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party:
The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, blamed multiculturalism for segregating religious groups and said non-Muslims faced a hostile reception in places dominated by the ideology of Islamic radicals.
He wrote that the integration agenda pursued by the government lacked "a moral and spiritual vision", and he condemned the failure to give priority to the established church [the Church of England], which he believes has led to a "multi-faith mish-mash".
He also questioned whether elements of sharia law were applicable in the UK, particularly the use of loudspeakers on mosques to spread the call to prayer.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, said the bishop had not produced any evidence of "no-go areas" for non-Muslims, a notion he described as "an extraordinarily inflammatory way of putting it".
Mr. Clegg could perhaps have had a little sensitivity himself, realizing how dangerous it was for an Anglican bishop born in Pakistan to blow the whistle on militant Islam, which might well see him as an "apostate," despite the fact that he was born into a Christian family. Not all Islamist radicals stop to consider the niceties of religious freedom. Coming from a Moslem culture, the bishop evidently understands better than many pure-British clergy the fundamental incompatibility between liberal Christianity and militant Salafism from the land of the Taliban.
So what has the head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to say about these outrageous attacks against men of Christian faith? Well, recently he called for incorporating Sharia in England; then he turned about and equated Moslem extremists and their victims.
It doesn't take much imagination to see how internally divided societies find brief moments of unity when they have successfully identified some other group as the real source of their own insecurity. Look at any major conflict in the world at the moment and the mechanism is clear enough. Repressive and insecure states in the Islamic world demonise a mythical Christian 'West', and culturally confused, sceptical and frightened European and North American societies cling to the picture of a global militant Islam, determined to 'destroy our way of life.' Two fragile and intensely quarrelsome societies in the Holy Land find some security in at least knowing that there is an enemy they can all hate on the other side of the wall.
So is it any wonder that Moslems in the UK are emboldened in direct proportion to the rate of dismay and disheartening of British Anglicans? Not that the Cathlic Church is much better; if they have stepped forward to provide moral guidance to Brits confused by the easy acquiescence of government and religious officials to Islamic bullying, they've been awfully quiet about it.
Recently, the marriage rate in the UK has dropped to a record low. As Moslem worshippers grow, the number of churchgoers diminishes; as politicians turn a blind eye to rampaging "Asian youths" and take seriously demands for polygamy under sharia, and as churches abandon their historic role of enunciating God's eternal law in favor of politicaly correct "tolerance" and "sensitivity" to what looks a lot like evil -- sex-slavery of teenaged girls, violence against priests, threats and intimidation -- it's hardly surprising that the British lose respect for the church, for priests and bishops, and even for God.
The voices of Archbishop Rowen Williams and the Right Rev. John Pritchard are heard throughout the United Kingdom loud and clear. The real danger these people create is not emboldening Islamist extremists but driving Christians away from faith. If British Christians cannot rely on the moral authority of the Church of England, where can they seek it? If the church says there is no difference between Moslem terrorists and Christian faithful, why should anyone go to church, pray, obey the laws of the Bible, or even get married before God? And certainly, why risk life and limb fighting back against violent religious zealots?
I am not a Christian, so take this advice for what it's worth. I think what Britain desperately needs is to purge all these multicultural bishops, these "men without chests," as C.S. Lewis called them... "cerebral men" who are pure thought with no courage, no stability, no magnanimity. Just as the Catholic Church had finally to purge child molesters and practicing homosexual priests, no matter what the cost, the Church of England mast rid itself of forever-compromising, socialist, chestless non-believers who pretend to represent faith.
The survival of Christianity in Great Britain depends on purging the clergy; the survival of the United Kingdom in any recognizable form depends upon the survival of Christianity there.
It's hard to watch Great Britain go down without a fight. I cannot believe there isn't a regiment of English yeomen left to stand against this evil, longbows in hand. Of course there are some, such as Lionheart, Melanie, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali; and lets not forget the British troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are ill-served by their Labour PM Gordon Brown (he's no Tony Blair).
But they are too far and too few between. If the Church of England cannot cover the heroes' backs, how can the flock face the enemy front?
February 21, 2007
Italy's Left Bares Its Agenda
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government, having just finished nine months of gestation, has been forced to resign -- because the anti-war Communists, who were members of his coalition, refused to support the anti-terrorist mission... in Afghanistan:
Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned Wednesday after nine months in office following an embarrassing loss by his center-left government in the Senate on foreign policy, including Italy's military mission in Afghanistan....
The loss, by two votes in the Senate, came on a bid by Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema to rally the often bickering partners in the coalition, which range from Christian Democrats to Communists.
He was hoping to the allies would close ranks in the vote on foreign policy, including Italy's military mission in Afghanistan, but his bid backfired.
There are several possibilities for Italy's immediate future:
- President Giorgio Napolitano (who is also a "senator for life") could ask Prodi to put a new coalition together; if it includes the Communists, they would assuredly demand Italy pull all its NATO troops out of Afghanistan as a condition to rejoin the coalition;
- But Prodi could instead try to craft a "grand coalition," joining the centrist parts of the Union, his center-left coalition, to the centrist parties in the House of Liberty (or House of Freedoms), Berlusconi's center-right coalition. Berlusconi would certainly have to be included in the government in some significant post, and the Communists and Greens would likely be excluded;
- Or if Prodi tries and fails, or if he's not even asked, then another party leader would try to form a coalition -- perhaps former President Silvio Berlusconi, head of Forza Italia, the leading party in the House of Liberty coalition.
- If none of these works out, then there could be new elections -- though that would be a drastic step, as the last election was less than a year ago.
But I'm less interested in the intricacies of Italian coalition politics than I am in the fact that the Communists broke with Prodi, not over the Iraq war, but in a dispute whether Italy should participate in the non-controversial Afghanistan war... where the defeated Taliban are trying -- without any success so far -- to stage a resurgance.
Even the French and the Canadians participate in Iraq as part of their NATO commitment to the International Security Assistance Force: 1,700 from the former and 2,500 from the latter. At the moment, there are 1,950 Italian troops in Afghanistan... but evidently, the so-called "pacifists" in Italy (perhaps taking their cue from Russian President Vladimir Putin) now almost openly side with the anti-liberal, anti-woman, anti-gay, Moslem-fundamentalist terrorists in the Taliban.
I have argued for some time (since at least 1996 in print) that the global jihadis are the natural heirs of the Communists; that when push comes to pull, totalitarians of a feather stick together. Over and over, in virtually every corner of the globe (well, you know what I mean!), Communists ally with jihadis:
- Russia, swiftly re-Communizing under Putin, and despite fighting for years against Chechen separatists, is clearly allied with Iran against the West;
- Red China is also allied with Iran against the West;
- North Korea conducted nuclear and missile trades with Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq;
- Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has formed a virtual partnership with Hezbollah and Hamas;
- And the Godfather of Latin American Communist revolution, Fidel Castro, formed a deep bond with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, launching a connection between Cuba and Iran that exists to this day.
The slow drift of Communists supporting jihadis has dramatically accelerated in recent years. It appears that the party of atheist empire has more in common with the fighters for global theocracy than with any supporter of freedom and liberty.
This may well explain the mounting rejection by the Democratic Party here in America of a serious war against global jihad: it's not that the Democrats are anti-war; a major part of their leftist base has simply become pro-jihad. Recall Michael Moore referring to the Iraqi al-Qaeda terrorists as "Minutemen," and note the embrace by the Democratic Party of noted apologists for jihadist terrorism, such as CAIR, the Nation of Islam, and Sami al-Arian.
This is a very scary development, but I wonder how far it can possibly go: the mass of Democrats in the United States are certainly not supporters of jihad or jihadists. At what point will they suddenly wake up to what the party leadership is doing -- something that formerly Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 80%) realized some time ago -- and actually begin doing something about it? Either by voting against future Keith Ellisons in primary elections, or even by starting to vote Republican, as many did during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
By catering to the leftist MoveOn.org crowd, the Democratic leadership is playing, not just with fire, but with molten lava.
(In the extended entry, I demonstrate my complete inability to grasp the minutiae of Italian politics by discussing the possibilities of Silvio Berlusconi being able to form his own coalition.)
Big Lizards covered the April, 2006 election in three posts:
- Roma Rinse Repeat
- Strange Doin's In the City of Seven Hills
- The Party's Over, Start Dressing For the Next One
In that controversial and still-disputed election, the conservative House of Liberty fared reasonably well in the Senate during initial voting; they won a plurality of 49.86% to the Union's 49.18%. But after counting ballots from abroad, which overwhelmingly favored Prodi's coalition, the Union, this translated to a minority of 156 seats for the House of Liberty to 158 for the Union. Flipping any of several small parties within the Union could give the Senate to the House of Liberty.
The problem is in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house, where the House of Liberty's loss to the Union coalition by a scant 49.69% to the Union's 49.80% -- 0.11% of the vote -- translated into a seat differential of 281 for the House of Liberty vs. 348 for the Union. Thus, without a new election, it would be very difficult for Berlusconi to woo enough members of the Union to his side to create a majority coalition.
He would need 35 more seats in this chamber to bring his total to 316, a scant majority of the 630 possible seats. The only party other than Olive Tree with that many seats is the Communist Refoundation Party -- and I think Berlusconi would not be interested in a coalition with them. The other Communist Party in Prodi's former coalition is the Party of Italian Communists, who have 16 seats. Then there is the Rose In the Fist, which is a mini-coalition of 18 seats comprising the Italian Democratic Socialists and the Italian Radicals; again, I doubt this is very attractive to Berlusconi... and in any event, all these Communists and Radicals and such are unstable in their loyalty -- as Prodi just learned.
And then there are the Greens, with 15 seats. Without the Olive Tree, there is no way to snag 35 more seats without stealing at least one of these ultra-leftist parties... who would probably demand an end to Italy's participation in Afghanistan as their price to ally with Berlusconi, just as they probably will with Prodi.
This leaves only other possibility for Berlusconi (a slim one, I think): If Prodi tries and fails to form a grand coalition, Berlusconi might try to form his own grand coalition, peeling away the plurality member of the Union, the Olive Tree party (220 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, but only 1 in the Senate), giving him a very strong 501-seat majority (nearly 80%). It's possible, though unlikely, that the Olive Tree party would like a coalition governed by Berlusconi -- whose Conservative government was the longest-lasting in post-WWII Italy -- than in Prodi's Union coalition; they might simply have grown to dislike or distrust Prodi.
Berlusconi would still need to peel off another seat or two in the Senate; but if the Olive Tree party flipped, I'm sure they would take several other centrist parties with them.
Still, I think the best chance for Silvio Berlusconi to return to power would be through a new election... which could go either way. Without it, I believe there is little chance that the House of Liberty will be able to form a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, hence scant chance they can form a new government.
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