Berlusconi Comes Up Short

by Mike on April 11, 2006

in Politics

Silvio Berlusconi has narrowly lost his bid for re-election. Returns show challenger Romano Prodi’s coalition defeating Berlusconi 49.8 percent to 49.7 percent. This race went back and forth all day yesterday. Initially, exit polls showed Prodi winning by a close but comfortable margin. Since the news was based on exit polls, it was destined to change. Early returns suggested Berlusconi narrowly winning re-election. Now it appears that Prodi will win, albeit by a smaller margin than predicted by exit polls.

Berlusconi is calling for a recount. This request seems fair given the closeness of the race. However, I hope Berlusconi does not pull an Al Gore or Christine Gregoire where old ballots are recounted, new ballots are discovered and additional votes are cast until the desired result is achieved. A recount should be closely scrutinized and once Prodi’s win is confirmed, Berlusconi should concede. A healthy democracy requires the cooperation and graciousness of those who lose.

The media reaction was particularly interesting and predictable. When it initially appeared that Prodi would win, the media jumped all over the result as a repudiation of Iraq. These claims disappeared when it appeared that Berlusconi would win. Expect more anti-Iraq mandate stories if the result holds as expected.

I am disappointed by the result. Italy’s cooperation in Iraq was a campaign issue and leaders who courageously recognized and confronted the threat posed by the terrorist harboring, mass- murdering dictator known as Saddam Hussein were defeated. That is not something Italy should be proud of; however, it is important that conservatives be careful to avoid equating Italy with Spain. Italy merely supported the wrong candidate in an election campaign over both serious issues and the bizarre. Unlike Spain, Italy did not give Al Qaeda everything it wanted as a direct response to a terrorist attack. They simply elected the wrong guy, barely.

Despite the result, Italy has given the civilized world some hope for the future. European conservatives often have to do what American liberals do to get elected, that is hide their beliefs from the electorate. Berlusconi didn’t do that. Many in Berlusconi’s coalition made no secret of their pro-life views and support for confronting evil in the world. This message fell one tenth of one percentage point short of victory, in Italy. Berlusconi touched every third rail that could be touched and almost pulled off a victory. They didn’t get this one right but there is hope for Italy.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ryan April 12, 2006 at 1:46 pm

Berlusconi can easily just hire his Sicilian muscle to make sure the recounts go the “proper” way if it gets to that point. If his muscle can’t find enough unmarked boxes full of ballots, then I agree that he should admit defeat or go through the constitutional option of a revote.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Berlusconi and his ca-do attitude, but if he plays it right and still loses he can bounce back later after the scoailists ruin the Italian economy in a few years.

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