Today’s headlines in the German Press were planned a little differently. For weeks the mood here was against Italy’s conservative government. “Berlusconi shudders at the election,” could be read all over. But instead of the planned gloating, the blabbering guild had to admit today: Surprise success for Berlusconi. Surprise success means: Italy’s Right was successful, Journalistic Left was surprised.
So, following the style of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the election victory of Berlusconi and his coalition can also be expressed with: “Berlusconi’s Center-Right Camp Escapes the Election Debacle“. In a somewhat more serious tone, however, Die ZEIT attempts to give air to their worries: Surprise Success for Berlusconi:
The Central-Right camp of the Italian government boss, Silvio Berlusconi, has posted surprising gains after stable projections. The conservative ruling coalition relieved the Left of both southern regions Calabria and Campagna.
In Piemont and Latium the Center-Right camp turned up in an uncatchable lead in a long head-to-head run late Monday evening. “These results strengthen the government,” Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa rejoiced: “Berlusconi has shown that he always wins when a referendum is put for or against him.”
Because of this, a “France Effect” remained notably absent: The opposition from the Left had hoped that they could inflict painful and clear-cut losses against the conservative side similar to what happened in the local elections of the neighboring country. According to evaluations by observers, regional problems were deciding factors for many voters, like in Campagna with its garbage problems.
In Italy, 13 of the 20 regions held elections. Eleven of these regions had been in the hand of the Left since 2005, two are governed by Berlusconi’s camp. The local elections on Sunday and Monday were marked with a lower voter participation. Only around two out of three voters went to the booth, just under eight percent less than 2005. Berlusconi had elevated the elections to a national test for his government three years before the next parliamentary election.
The Left had hoped for a turnaround and had laid everything on Berlusconi’s affairs, slip-ups and corruption trials causing a setback for the Cavaliere. Above all, Berlusconi’s Party “People of Freedom” (PdL) was supposed to suffer from weak voter turnout, according the last polls. According to the statements from the Ministry of the Interior in Rome, only 63.6 percent of the just under 41 million registered voters cast their votes. In Italy, there is usually a high voter turnouty.
Over 63 percent voter participation — for years, one has been only able to dream about such a turnout in Germany’s local elections. And again a people in Europe has voted other than what the German press deemed acceptable. That is what one would call a discrepancy between public opinion and published opinion. One has to wonder if some embittered leftwing journalist isn’t wishing for a return to the times of the German Democratic Republic, since there was a certain preselection of voter possibilities made available in democratic elections so as to avoid erroneous decisions. We German conservatives, however, want to say thank you dear European neighbors, Dutch, Swiss, Italians, that you haven’t left us alone with these leftwing people!
(Translation by Anders Denken)