Italian Election: Berlusconi and his fascist and populist allies have to be defeated.
Interview with Mariangela Casalucci
Italy shortly goes to the polls. This is a vital election, and the left parties, Rifondazione Comunista and Partito dei Comunisti Italiani are participating in Romano Prodi’s L’Unione coalition in an attempt to defeat Berlusconi.
Socialist Unity Network spoke to British based Italian activist, Mariangela Casalucci.
Socialist Unity Network: Can you briefly explain your own political background?
Mariangela Casalucci I am a member of Rifondazione Comunista in Italy, I live in Manchester at the moment where I have been involved in in the antiwar protests, in the Manchester Social Forum, in the Forum for Palestine, and recently in the Collettivo Bellaciao which is a group of left-wing Italians living in Britain and very keen to be active
Socialist Unity Network: What has the Berlusconi government been like?
Mariangela Casalucci The situation is really bad in Italy from all points of view. I just give you some examples
the economic situation is bad because the famous " legge 30" has created a lot of casual jobs. Mostly all the young people either don't work or have temporary employment. Also the workers ' condition is worse not because of the Euro in itself but for the fact that there was no control by the government on the rise of prices
the so called 'school reforms' by the Minister of Education Moratti has cut a lot of money from schools, changing the system for the worse: more children in the classes, less teachers to support the special needs children who are in all the schools, less facilitates to help children of migrants arriving in Italy, a system where you have to decide when you are 13 what to do next while before you could wait till the end of secondary school, less money for Universities and research
attacks on the abortion law which has caused a big women movement to spring up again - fighting back with more than hundreds thousand people demonstrating all over the country
signs of privatisation in the public sector
serious and dangerous attacks to the freedom of expression culminated with the closing of some satirical programmes on TV and with Berlusconi going to interviews on TV with his own journalist asking the questions he wanted
attacks on the Constitution
the approval of laws to protect himself and his friends in the government from
Socialist Unity Network: How important is it that Berlusconi loses this election?
Mariangela Casalucci It is vital for the Italian democracy
Socialist Unity Network: What will it mean for the left if Berlusconi wins?
Mariangela Casalucci It will be a great defeat and the starting point for an even bigger protest movement in Italy which is already in place and a big process of reflection about how we can give Italians the hope that a change is not only a dream but possible. Most of them are really fed up with Berlusconi but at the same time they don't see the left wing as a real alternative.
Socialist Unity Network: What do you think of the decision of Rifondazione Comunista to join the L’Unione coalition with Prodi?
Mariangela Casalucci I think it's a good decision. I agree with it. There is no other chance of defeating Berlusconi if are not united. This doesn't mean that we will accept any possible compromise. We signed a programme which is the highest possible one based on consensus between different parties but the election will give the idea of how much people voting are choosing one or the other policy. For the Senate people can choose the party in the coalition and this result will give the weight of the popularity of each party and the aims they work for
Socialist Unity Network: Do you think participation in the coalition will damage Rifondazione?
Mariangela Casalucci I don't think so as a lot of us, even the most radical ones agree on one big aim at the moment : this government has to go. Berlusconi and his fascist and populist allies have to be defeated. The alternative is a single minority voice shouting for change with no chance of being heard. The main problem will be how to continue to link the movements in Italy and the new government. This will be the real challenge for all the coalition. We won't be silent whoever is in government. Movements will continue their battles to bring the troops back, for a new law on education, against casual jobs, for a decent life
Socialist Unity Network: Italians abroad now have a chance to use a Postal vote, what are the left doing to mobilise their vote in Britain?
Mariangela Casalucci We are giving them the chance to know that they can do it, to inform about how to do it, and let them meet the candidates
Socialist Unity Network: Can you explain what the Bella Ciao group is?
Mariangela Casalucci The Bellaciao Collective in Great Britain was a result of the need for contact between Italians resident in the UK (whether temporarily or long-term) who want to stay in close touch with the politics and political culture of their home country.
A few of us belong to Italian left-wing parties. Others are sympathisers, while others again do not associate themselves with any particular party.
The thing we share is that we all lean to the left: we believe in the values and ideals of the left and we want to commit ourselves to safeguarding those values and sharing them with our fellow citizens abroad, especially in view of the major political events in the near future.
We have had different political experiences and we are all trying, in different ways and to different degrees, to contribute also to the political life of our host country.
We believe that it is possible to view our experiences from a European perspective, and bring together the best of the diverse political situations in which we are active.
The Bellaciao Collective of Great Britain http://bellaciao.org/it/mot.php3?id_mot=1064 to contact us email@example.com
Socialist Unity Network: What is the relationship between Bella Ciao and Rifondazione?
Mariangela Casalucci Some of us are member of Rifondazione, most of us will vote for it, others aren't and they prefer to stay independent and have more involvement in movements.
For sure we all have a 'special attention' towards Rifondazione as it is, with the Partito dei Comunisti Italiani, the most radical party in Italy at the moment. We are also interested in what's happening internationally with the Partito della Sinistra Europea (Party of the European left). Today the Italian branch of this party has met and we are all looking at this new process.
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