On Tuesday 1 October Silvio Berlusconi abandoned his threat to bring down the Italian government of Enrico Letta.
The whoops of joy from the international bourgeoisie were nothing compared to the orgasm of triumph from their counterparts in Italy, finally reassured that the project begun around two years ago by Mario Monti to restore financial stability and competitive fitness would not be derailed by the desperate antics of a many-times-condemned billionaire criminal.
Prime minister Letta, in his address to parliament on 1 October, offered up hosannas to the wonderful achievements of Monti — carried through with full support from his Democratic Party and the PDL of Berlusconi — and then promised even further “painful reforms”. These will add to the misery of an official unemployment rate of 12% (40 % among the young), average family incomes reduced to the buying power of the late 80s, and the pillage of every institution of public life.
The birth of Letta’s coalition five months ago evoked widespread anger within the Democratic Party, in the union confederations, and across the spectrum of left opinion. Yet the possible collapse of the government saw no-one arguing to reshape the balance of forces in a mass working-class-led electoral challenge to the politics and interests represented by the coalition.
All the union leaders, and the parliamentary fake left — Nicky Vendola’s SEL — openly supported the government. The extra-parliamentary forces gathered behind the campaign “in defence of the Italian constitution” led by metalworkers’ leader Maurizio Landini remained philistinely indifferent to the political crisis.
The effect can only be to further deepen confusion, cynicism and demoralisation among millions. The populist Five Star movement alone gave no support to the government.
It will be licking its lips at the prospect of the inevitable next round of crisis.