The exit polls in the Italian election look quite promising – graphics from Corriere della Sera here. It seems that Prodi’s Unione is about 5% ahead for both the Camera and the Senato. While we all know Prodi has his faults (there are few who worked with him in Brussels that have many kind words, espcially about his communication or organisation skills), you have to acknowledge that at the very least he is a decent, intelligent and reasonably honest person. This stands in sharp contract to Berlusconi whose crude statements, abrasive manner, and complete disregard for most of what the Italian state does mean he was totally unfit to lead a European country – or indeed any country for that matter!
While Prodi may today enjoy his victory, and the rest of Europe’s leaders (Blair being the notable exception) will look forward to summits without Berlusconi, the hard work will then start. With a coalition from the centre as far as Communists, will the Unione actually be governable? And will serious efforts be made to deal with Italy’s demographic, economic and democratic ills? I wonder about that. But at least Italy looks like it has a serious and earnest leader to try to get to grips with the issues it faces.
[UPDATE – 21:14 BST]
It looks quite bad for the Unione now – seems that Berlusconi’s Casa della LibertÃƒÂ might maintain a majority in the Senato. However, if you do want to smile despite this, check out the Google image search for Berlusconi.
[UPDATE – 00:40 BST]
What the hell is going on? The more votes that get counted, the more the graphs on the website of Corriere swing one way and the other! I had hoped to go to bed knowing who won, but that’s still impossible to tell. Berlusconi thought he had reformed the electoral law to give him a victory – that might just about happen, but it’s also led to a very close election and possibly even a stalemate.