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New wind in Italy?

Yesterday, 30 May 2011, maybe will be remembered as a "historical" day. Not the kind of major events one is likely to find on history book maybe, yet something I did not expect.

On 29 and 30 May, the administrative election days have concluded and results are difficult to understate: the center-left wing parties, after more than 10 years of right-wing domination, obtained a significant success.

In the municipalities of Milan, Naples, Cagliari, to mention just some large towns at random, center-left parties won with significant margin.

Who is not afraid of Italian language may find a complete account for example at URL

http://www.corriere.it/politica/speciali/2011/elezioni-amministrative-ba...

* * * * * * * * *

My birth town is Milan, and I can't resist to share with you some impressions of this surprising result.

The former major, Letizia Moratti, a representative of mr.Berlusconi's "PdL" ("liberty party") has conduced a very aggressive, and dramatically expensive, electoral campaign - especially after having received a 5% less votes than her adversary Giuliano Pisapia on first turn.

This, and the desperate attempts to depict mr. Pisapia as "friend of reds", was not enough. As far as one week ago, the overall tone of the conversation I heard around were against her, and an air of defeat was already around.

Mr.Berlusconi's attempt to transform the administrative elections in a sort-of plebiscite on his own person, so successful on previous elections, this time did not work. "I'm a fighter", he said soe hour ago, "and will go on." Little doubt. With an immense army of faithful drones at his own disposal, he will immediately begin to inundate with mud-and-shit the new major, mr.Pisapia, and his municipality council.

Will it be a successful tactic, as it was in past? We'll see.

More importantly, we'll see what mr.Pisapia will be able to actually do. The task is quite formidable: Expo is dramatically late (with the former major sharing a large part of responsibility for this inaction) and timing is very tight. Municipality finance is in not-so-brilliant conditions, after many years of management focused on short term needs - i.e. immediate cash).

We'll see, as I said. We'll also see whether mr. Pisapia will prepare a municipality government team where women are 50%.

But today, reactions are still at emotional level, and we can appreciate, almost measure, the excitation. As I said, the episode looks a crumb of history.

Sure, mr. Berlusconi insisting on "fight" as only way in politics evidently goes nowhere. Politics, as "gaining power", has very little to do with policy, that is, exerting power for the common good. And mr. Berlusconi, with his Cro-Magnon ideology of verbal war, is an antithesis to policy and government. He really thrives "against", but you can't do government against yourself (he did, however).

Is people beginning to realize this fact? I hope so. Yet I can't forget how large consensus his announces and "surprises" did obtain. A "man of the people", able to titillate the belly more than rationality. So a "man of the people" that many adored him, hoping in some return, or imagining that if someone so mediocre was able, with some help, to build a television empire and become the richest man in Italy, and last Prime Minister, then they too may have a chance, sooner or later.

Future chances, however, do not compare with empty wallets. The everyday fight conduced by mr. Berlusconi "against" any possible target (much beyond a normal fantasy) has in fact halted Italian development since 1998. As 2008 crisis hit, with little made by Italian government to mitigate its effects, people have really begun to feel poorer. And to realize mr. Berlusconi's promises and hope-for-return have no value.

To date, Italy has one of the largest fiscal pressures in the World.

Mr. Berlusconi, to win the last electoral campaign, promised "I'll never put my hands in the pockets of Italians". I.e., he promised to decrease taxation. Promise not maintained.

He also promised "epocal reforms", but nothing really happened. Young people (and not-so-young, like me) is almost sure they will not have a retirement pension, as previous generations had. Welfare state is dissolving, but no really functioning private alternatives are present. No future expected.

* * * * * * * * *

But these elections were only municipal, and mr. Berlusconi is still the Prime Minister. I bet he'll not retire. He will endure a lot of time, with his crazy behaviors so immediately and lightheartedly forgiven by his supporters.

What Italy "has" to do, in the next years, is to detoxicate from Berlusconism. Maybe the latter municipal elections are a first tiny sign, but a lot of work remains to be made.

I'm not completely sure the Italian political class, as it is to date, will be able to steer this process. No one is immune from the caricatural macho-driven focus on "being the boss" (of what?), of "imposing one own's line over others", of... fighting. Left-wing parties are no less ferociously "litigating" current by current, all-against-all, with noting in view but being elected or gaining power so useable for personal advantages.

Mr. Pisapia's quiet manners may be a response to this, and I wish many more people like him will take a stand. In policy, as in everyday life. On work places. Among friends, in families.

De-contamination is, first and foremost, an un-learning process. It's hard, I imagine, to envision another person with a different idea as a person, instead of an enemy to destroy at any cost.

But it's also a learning process. This, maybe, is the difficult part. To unlearn something, as hard as it might be, demands "only" to abandon old preconcepts - something you already know, after all.

Learning something new, on the contrary, may be a tour into the Unknown. The Yonder. The new lands only the brave (the most receptive?!) may discover.

Unlearning high-testosterone suicide behaviors may even be "easy".

But, what of oxytocin?

* * * * * * * * *

The Oxytocin Connection.

I'm decidedly not the best person to invent slogans, but this one appeals me.

Hmm. Oxytocin. The hormone of tending-and-befriending. Of taking care of. Of warmth and receptivity...

Not bad, hah? ;-)

(Please, please, forgive me if I have "invented" the hot water - even my "slogan" have surely been found elsewhere, me totally unaware - sinful ignorance).

This might be a new start, by the way. On different grounds.

With solid possibilities. Forget mr. Berlusconi. Whatever he says, don't waste your time listening him. Nor ever think to his cases (thankfully, after all, we're not married).

We have a new world to build.

One simple thing: restore teamwork. This is not an idea of mine. I owe it to a friend of mine and her association. These (very brave and passionate) engineers found a way to let Bosnian and Serbs to restart dialogue after their terrible civil war. By finding technically difficult projects, and having people of different ethnicities work to solve them. In the beginning, "no solution, no bread, then better to simulate cooperation". As this method yields no appreciable results, and as "no work = no bread", they were forced to cooperate more really. Then, after time, they began saying and listening to other "people". Last, in some cases, even "communicating".

Maybe this is far from elaborating grief, and accepting the past. But, it's a start.

We Italians, too, have to re-discover what it means to "co-operate".

We also need, desperately, to learn the many meanings of the term "leadership". And maybe more important, that being leader does not necessarily mean being "the" (only) leader. That co-leadership, if well tuned, is much more effective. That different individualities may very well co-exist without excluding each other.

That the logic connector "or" is true if any of its two predicates is true (and not exactly one).

That politics is, to a very large extent, irrelevant. What counts is policymaking. Pragmatism, in the sense of good old common practical sense. That the problems we face, from environmental protection to energy policy to wealth production, to wealth distribution, to health maintenance and amelioration, all demand difficult compromises beyond the reach of any imaginable ideology.

Better I stop here. To write, of course, not to hope!

I've to finish my three millimeters of Mandarinetto (exquisite, although a bit alcoholic) to celebrate mr. Pisapia election.

And, I guess, finding some new bit of land we all can share (here and in the World).

Hugs,

Mauri

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