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Michael San Filippo

Trasformismo: Parliamentary Musical Chairs in Italy

By July 2, 2008

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During the recent national elections in Italy, Tobias Jones, the author of The Dark Heart of Italy, wrote that: "Italian politics are a game of musical chairs where no one ever loses their seat." Jones pointed out that: "...at the end of the 19th century, trasformismo was a term coined to describe the ability of Italian politicians to swap parties and coalitions and ideologies, just as long as they stayed in parliament and, preferably, in power. It evoked an image of parliamentary musical chairs in which no chair was ever removed. People might change seats, but they always had una poltrona (an armchair)."

Jones summarized by declaring: "The consequences for the country are fairly tragic. Political discourse is rarely about politica, it's almost always about partitica, party politics. Political discussion [in Italy] is not about monetary or foreign policy, it is about which little party is going to break away, or flow into another, or redesign its emblem, or leave the coalition."

Sadly, it seems that the garbage crisis in Napoli doesn't have a seat in this game.

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