Friday, October 14, 2011

Berlusconi wins vote of confidence: a vote for him or a vote against others?

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has won a vote of confidence 316-300 -- just enough to win the vote and remain in office. He argued that there was no alternative...and his colleagues appear to have agreed. The vote might be interpreted not so much as a vote of confidence in his remaining PM, but expressing a lack of confidence in any likely alternative government. It has been surprising to find opposition leaders not making the case for change more clear and attractive. In the face of such opposition, Berlusconi may well serve out a full term in office before the next general election.

Machivalli wrote that a combination of virtu and fortuna may help dictate how successful a politician is. A person's natural abilities and talents can count only for so much; there are also the winds of political fortune that are largely uncontrollable. However, there is a third feature, namely, opportunity. Opponents have made little of what opportunities have arisen to make their case for change. Of course, the problem with opportunities is that you can't predict when they arise.

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