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Italy’s Decline

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On Tuesday, the hapless leader of Italy’s centre-left opposition, Walter Veltroni, quit after his party was trounced in Sardinia’s gubernatorial election. The timing couldn’t have been better for the government, since Veltroni’s resignation pushed off the front pages the news that David Mills, the estranged husband of Britain’s Olympics minister, Tessa Jowell, has been sentenced by a court in Milan to four and a half years in jail for taking bribes from the prime minister.

Writing in the current issue of the LRB, Perry Anderson anatomises the disappointed hopes of the Second Republic that was thought to have been established in 1992-94, the resistible rise of Silvio Berlusconi, and the continuities between the current system and the one it was supposed to replace.

‘Berlusconi,’ Anderson writes, ‘embodies perhaps the deepest irony in the postwar history of any Western society. The First Republic collapsed amid public outrage at the exposure of stratospheric levels of political corruption, only to give birth to a Second Republic dominated by a yet more flamboyant monument of illegality and corruption.’

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