Italy voted this week. And their voices were loud and clear. They voted to bring back the conservative, pro-American administration of Silvio Berlusconi. They didn’t just bring him and his bloc, People of Freedom, back to power. They gave him a resounding mandate over the previous left-of-center coalition.
Berlusconi’s People of Freedom bloc won 47 percent of the votes, the highest score ever for an Italian coalition – 340 seats in the national assembly. Veltroni’s Democratic Party received 38 percent of the votes and 239 seats. Thus, Berlusconi ends up with a parliamentary majority of 101 seats, an Italian record. (By comparison, Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s outgoing coalition had a one-seat majority.)
The extremist parties of both left and right almost evaporated. The Communists, one of the two largest parties in Italy for more than half a century, together with their extreme-left allies, ended up with just 3 percent of the votes and no seats.
The extreme right, with Alessandra Mussolini, the Fascist dictator’s granddaughter, as its mascot, did even worse, collecting 2 percent of the votes. Italy will also become the first major European nation to have no Greens in its new parliament.
That is just a sweet win. And it goes to show that some Europeans are sick and tired of the leftist policies of the Euro-socialists. Berlusconi is a controversial figure and is probably no angel. But he, along with France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy, represent a different breed of European politicians.
Under President Nicolas Sarkozy, France has decided to rejoin the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a full member. Sarkozy has also canceled his predecessor Jacque Chirac’s plan to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan. (In fact he has just agreed to send an extra 800 men to Afghanistan.)
Bound by a friendship dating to the ’80s, Sarkozy and Berlusconi are determined to strengthen the Atlantic alliance under US leadership, an objective also shared by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, albeit with far less passion.
This is great news for the US and Europe in general. Europe has seen a resurgence of conservativism (though I can’t find an authority who will claim that fact). It’s ironic that this is occuring at the same that the US has taken a leftward detour by electing Democrats to power. If McCain is elected as president of the US, I have a good feeling about the chance that trans-Atlantic relations will peak to a level not seen since the days of Reagan, Thatcher, Kohl, et al.
Let’s just hope that US voters will pick up on the thing that millions of European voters seem to realize – that socialist, anti-US rhetoric won’t get you very far. The elections of Berlusconi, Merkel and Sarkozy are exciting. It would be a shame to see US voters waste this grand opportunity by electing an antagonist like Obama or Clinton to office.
If McCain gets the nod, I will be willing to predict that British PM Gordon Brown may need to count his days in power as numbered. That would represent a conservative sweep for the old Western alliance. Then they can make a difference to offset Russian and Chinese influences. We could see an alliance not seen since the 1980s. I am an enthusiast of foreign policy and have been waiting for this moment for many years now.
This election in Italy certainly brought a lot of good news. Now it’s up to us.