There are two ways of looking at a town, the first one is to go street by street and put the pieces together, the second one is to see the landscape from the bell tower, you may loose some details, but the glance is generally good to make an initial assessment.
Italy is always considered a sort of black hole abroad, it is difficult to understand what is going on in the Belpaese (nice country) and the political arena is crowded of parties generally making just background noise rather than dealing with real issues.
The are a lot of conservative areas in which any attempt of change is seen as a break of the status quo.
In the past all the unions were together to back the left wing political parties keeping a high level of conflicts with the entrepreneurs. Nowadays a part of the Unions, the left-wing oriented CGIL, is loosing ground among the workers due to their ideological approach, the rest of the Unions is trying to fight the crisis by reaching some agreements with their counterparts.
From the times of Mr. Leone’s (former president of the republic) resignation and the “tangentopoli” (City of bribes) scandal the ability of the media and the politically oriented prosecutors to overthrow governments and political parties is slowly decreasing.
Entrepreneurs of the PMI (piccola e media impresa – small and medium firms) seem to be less eager to ask for state help and ask the politicians a fair market economy, the bigger industrial trusts are moving more slowly, but FIAT seems to have a more proactive approach. The economic system is therefore likely to improve.
The political instability is changing, in 1994 an allegation to the Prime Minister caused his resignation, later on he was found not guilty, now the attempt to overthrow him with an impressive number of trials does not seem to obtain any result. Maybe the political leadership and the public opinion are now fully aware of the fact that some judges and prosecutors played a political role ripping an entire political class off the scene.
A recent effort of Mr. Fini to set a new party out of the normal election process is going bad and a trend to avoid the political fragmentation has started.
Italy is surely going along a difficult path to get out of the mist in which has been so far and can start playing a different role on the international arena, despite the prejudices and hidden interests of a lot of western countries, especially in North Africa.
p.s. A telephone rings at the resident’s office in Rome : “How is the situation there?”. “Mister B is still in place, despite the forecasts…”. “Oh shit! If he and Gheddafi succeed in remaining at their place we have no hope to get new oil in North Africa”.