I was out leafleting today for our Socialist Unity candidate Roy North in Gorse Hill and Pinehurst ward in Swindon. Afterwards I popped into the local Italian shop, which is in the ward, and was met with beaming smiles. They told me Berlusconi had lost both houses of parliament, and it was the votes from abroad that swung the senate. Certainsly the left have won a very narrow victory! And the votes from abroad swinging left is significant, as there was real concern that Berlusconi had only introduced postal votes for Italians living abroad in order to allow him to steal the election fraudulently or otherwise.
Berlusconi is the most dangerous politician in Europe, not only has he included the post-fascist Gianfranco Fini’s National Alliance in government, (who get around 12% of the vote), he has also courted for the last year the hard core fascists like Alessandra Mussolini’s Liberta d’Azione, and Roberto Fiore’s Forza Nuovo. Despite the fact that the hard right win less than 1% of the vote, had he won the elelction this time Berlusconi would have brought fascists into government for the first time since 1943. In fact, it is brilliant news that Mussolini's Alterntiva Sociale (AS) of which her own Liberta d’Azione is just one part, failed to win a single seat, and got just 0,7% of the vote.
Of course now the hard work begins. It seems Rifondazione Comunista have won 41 seats and Comunisti Italiani 16 seats. They have to make their presence in the government into a sheet anchor against Prodi’s acceptance of neo-liberalism. They need to be prepared to resign from the government and turn to class struggle if and when the government turns on its working class supporters.
Also, the two parties, Rifondazione Comunista and Comunisti Italiani, split over the question of participation and non-participation in the last centre left coalition. Now they are both participating there is no principled reason for the two organisations to have separate existence. The hard left in Italy needs to unite to counterbalance the social democrats of the other parties: Democratici di Sinistra, Margherita, Socialisti Democratici and Verdi.