José Ignacio Luís Miguel (Spain, AC 07-09) interviewing Leonardo Goi (Italy, AC 07-09)
On April the 13th and 14th, new elections were held in Italy. The victory of the former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, with a big majority, over Walter Veltroni (former mayor of Rome) brought a lot of controversy and discussion.
Instead of writing a normal article about the subject, making use of the opportunities provided by studying in the United World College of the Atlantic seemed a more interesting option. That is why I decided to interview one of the Italian students in our College. His name is Leonardo Goi and he is from Venice. We have to thank him for giving us a very good insight on the elections which took place in their country.
Q Leonardo, I am very thankful to you. First of all, were these elections held respecting the normal electoral calendar or were they a sort of emergency measure taken after the crisis in the government?
A They were a response to the political crises occurred last month. Both the heads of the two main parties were given two weeks of campaign, although there were some risks of prolonging the whole process of elections, which would have increasingly weakened the political administration.
Q What can you explain about the parties running for the elections? Were they traditional parties or new coalitions formed before the elections?
A The parties running were actually two coalitions of lots of other smaller parties which, in a way, resembles the American system. For instance, all the ideas conveyed into Berlusconi’s party were not shared by all his electors, who had the chance to vote for a certain candidate within the coalition although the choice would have ultimately counted as a vote for Berlusconi.
Q This is a direct question, did you expect the victory of Berlusconi’s party?
A Yes, unfortunately. The main reason of Veltroni’s defeat was that his party was not able enough to cleanse its position from the previous failures of Prodi’s left wing coalition. All left wing parties started to be seen as inefficient, irresponsible, and, more to the point, they were considered to be not eager enough to uphold the new political situation.
Q Some people explain the results with the inefficiency of Veltroni’s party and its distance form people’s interests, is this true?
A No. Truth to be told, Veltroni’s ideas reflected the interests of the people although they miserably faded under Berlusconi’s overwhelming propaganda.
Q On the other hand, can the winning party, Popolo della Libertà (the people of the freedom), be identified with populism and nationalism?
A The different personal aims of each party in Berlusconi’s coalition made any attempt to seek for a pure sense of nationalism absolutely impossible, because of the internal grievances, ultimately smothered by Berlusconi himself.
Q Right after the elections, the president of the European Comission, Mr Durao Barroso, gave the post of Commissioner for Justice, Liberty and Security, which used to be held by Italy, to a French man, Jacques Barrot. Do you think that this is related to the position of the new Italian Government with respect to, for instance, immigration or rights of the homosexuals?
A I personally fear that this is the reason why such a decision has been taken. The basic pillars upon which the new government is founded seem to be the fear of the foreigners and fear of those who are different from the crowd, from the masses. If these are the starting points, I personally think that such a coalition will not last long.
Q I cannot avoid this question. I come from a country, Spain, where we have a government that is internationally recognized as very progressive. Our also new government was qualified by Berlusconi as “too pink” (due to the majority of women in it). Could the Spanish Prime Minister, Zapatero, and Berlusconni be considered antagonist political characters?
A Berlusconi and Zapatero are different not only in terms of political orientations but even because of their different approach to modernization: a good case in point is what you just raised about gender equality in politics. Berlusconi seems to be way behind Zapatero’s progressive ideas although in the last interviews released the new Italian PM asserted he would give new chance to offer women high places in his Government’s body.
Q Some journalists write that the Catholic Church is really happy about how the electoral results turned out to be. Which is your opinion about this?
A I know it might sound provocative, but in the past few years, there has not been a question about which the church has not put its pressure on the government. It is quite understandable, given the support of Catholics and members of the Vatican Church to Berlusconi’s Government that there would be a symbiosis between them: Berlusconi will personally prevent any effort to “put on trial” the ideas of the Church during his mandate; the Church, on the other hand, will always provide its support to the new government.
Q There are citizens who claim that Berlusconi has changed, that he is now more responsible and that he wants to work really hard to bring substantial improvements to the country. Has his attitude developed in the last few years or is he the same mass-controlling public character?
A There is a huge difference between improving a personal agenda with the development of new goals and changing his own personality. I am afraid Berlusconi will end up being, once more, the puppet of the masses and other political heads, such as G. W. Bush, regardless of how his new political program has improved.
Q For the last question, we are getting more personal. Some Italians feel really ashamed of the results, they cannot believe them. Others, like a “young European emigrant” (as he defined himself) whose testimony I could read in the newspaper “El Pais”, said that his country was lost, broken, and that someone concerned about democracy would never vote for Berlusconi. As a final conclusion, what do you feel deeply inside?
A I will never feel ashamed of something which is the result of our democracy: two parties were running for the same goal and one triumphed. Yet I will never be a supporter of Berlusconi, but what Italy needs now is the security of a stable government, eager to promote new reforms and give stability to the country. Berlusconi’s coalition, in spite of all the internal differences and opinions, is probably the only party capable of guaranteeing such a condition.
– United World College Student Magazine –