Conflict in Italian Politics, Just the Norm

As everyone's favorite, handsome, dashing, token Italian friend, I feel obliged to report to you all what's happening in the motherland.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi (pictured left) says everything is A-OK (see hand gesture) and does not concede defeat to center-left leader Romano Prodi, who won the election by a "razor thin margin," according to the AP.

This is Italy's version of W. vs. Gore in 2000.

Berlusconi, alleging irregularities, demands a recount, a process that could take weeks. Prodi won by a margin of about 25,000 over the 38 million votes cast. Approximately 84 percent of registered voters got the polls -- compare that to the 60 percent voter turnout for the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

According to the AP, "Prodi says his government would pass a new conflict of interest law but added that it would not be to punish Berlusconi, who is Italy's richest man and the owner of a media empire that includes the country's largest private broadcaster as well as insurance, real estate and publishing interests."

Conflict of interest is one of many factors that have resulted in the political instability characterizing post-WWII Italy. There have been 60 governments in about as many years since the end of the war and it gets worse: Italy has only won one post-war World Cup (1982).