You Read It First on dotCom (Update)
Just a week ago I entered a post, “Malaise or Meltdown?” on the situation in Italy. I thought things were moving from the former to the latter. The latest sign is that the government of Romano Prodi has just lost a vote of confidence in the Italian Senate and has resigned.
As La Repubblica headlines it: Il Senato nega la fiducia al governo con 161 no, 156 sì e un astenuto.
And its editorial concludes: “Povera Italia. Meritava di più.”
Friday’s New York Times gives further details. As too often in Italy pathos and bathos co-exist cheek by jowl:
Italy’s government finally fell Thursday, after Prime Minister Romano Prodi lost a confidence vote that made it clear that Italy’s leaders know they face a deep political and economic crisis but are venomously divided over how to solve it.
Emblematic of those divisions, during the debate one senator rushed in fury to the desk of a colleague, Stefano Cusumano, and taunted and apparently tried to attack him. Mr. Cusumano, 60, reportedly cried, then collapsed.
“If I had the chance, I would have spit in his face,” said the attacker, Senator Tommaso Barbato, who had to be held back by his colleagues. His action came after Mr. Cusumano changed his vote to support Mr. Prodi.
According to Italian papers (and video clips), Senator Barbato had the chance … and took advantage of it, causing Senator Cusumano to faint, as the curtain fell.
Perhaps future historians will call the unseemly episode “Lo sputo di Barbato” and find some distant parallel with the infamous “Schiaffo di Anagni,” when Boniface VIII (founder of La Sapienza University) was roughed up by the henchmen of the King of France. Even Dante, no friend of Boniface, found this excessive.
An editorial in today’s Corriere della Sera contrasts the serious economic preoccupations of the rest of the world with what it ruefully calls “nostro Carnevale politico.”
And Silvio Berlusconi waits breathlessly in the wings!