Yesterday I posted the question "Are the Republicans Becoming Fascists?" Today I will expand on the theme by looking at Bush's closest ally on the Continent of Europe, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Italy is now the only major ally Bush has in Europe other than the United Kingdom. Bush is full of praise for the Italian government. If Clinton had a special relationship with Blair, Bush has that relationship with Berlusconi of Italy. Of course Blair has supported the US war in Iraq and there are rumors that Blair is something of an evangelical but his relationship with Bush is nothing like the love fest he had with Clinton.
Silvio Berlusconi is a kind of combination of Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney and George Steinbrenner. He owns the one of most popular professional soccer teams in Italy, AC Milan. He also owns the lion's share of the Italian media market. He rose to power amid accusations of corruption and abuse of power. He routinely uses his TV stations to violate equal time laws that require that all political parties be given equal access to the media. When he became Prime Minister, he was already under indictment for a number of corruption related crimes. He and the parties in his coalition immediately set about retroactively repealing the laws he had been indicted under. Pretty slick, eh?
Berlusconi is the leader of a five party coalition. The leading party is his own "Forza Italia" party. The name is taken from a soccer fan chant shouted by AC Milan fans...it means "Go Italy." Forza Italia portrays itself as a kind of Gaullist party for Italy (referring to the French nationalist General and politician, Charles DeGaulle). But there are wide spread concerns that Forza Italia is more radical than the image it likes to portray. Forza Italia's (FI) partners in the coalition include two far right parties: the Northern League (LN) and the National Alliance (AN).
LN is a socially conservative party that advocates greater autonomy for the wealthy region of Northern Italy. This is a kind of Bloc Quebecois for Milan, Turin and the Po Valley.
AN is the most alarming party in Italy. AN is the new name of the Italian Social Movement (MSI). MSI was run by Mussolini's family and was openly fascist in its sympathies and ideology. MSI existed for years on the fringes of Italian politics as a pariah party excluded from consideration as a coalition partner by all the parties of the left and right. But Berlusconi has helped the party - now called AN - enter the mainstream.
You can check out a summary list of the governments in Italy at the ZPC website.
Conservative nationalist parties like LN and post-fascist parties like AN exist in every country in Europe. Examples are Le Pen's National Front in France, the German NPD, DVU and Republikaner parties, the Progress Parties in Denmark and Norway, the British National Front, Vlaams Bloc in Belgium, and the Freedom Party of Austria. However, they have been excluded from power in every country except for Austria (Jorg Haider's FPO party) and in Italy. When combined with suspicions about the true nature of the Forza Italia party, it could be argued that Italy is currently ruled by a kind of post-fascist coalition.
Such is the nature of Bush's greatest ally in Europe. I believe that the American Republican party is becoming less and less like the British Conservative party or German Christian Democrats and more and more like the Italian coalition between the Forza Italia and National Alliance.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 10:38 AM