Sunday, May 20, 2018

Italian Elections Update: Populist Program and Government Proposal


The anti-establishment populist and anti-migrant far-right Italian parties have reached an agreement on a populist program for a government and on an unnamed prime minister and cabinet.  They are now obtaining support for their program from their general membership and will seek the approval of the President of the Italian Republic tomorrow.

The anti-establishment populists were the party that won the most votes and seats in the Italian parliamentary elections on March 4, while the far-right party came in third, but was first among the right-wing bloc that won the most votes and seats overall.  Together, they have a slim majority.  The two center-right parties in that coalition are not participating in the talks or plan to support the formation of the left-right populist government. 

The program is a mix of good and bad ideas, with the bad outweighing the good.  It not only is worrying the rest of Europe, but the financial markets, as the Italian bond has been battered by the prospect of the populist government for ItalyItaly risks not only its progress on reducing its debt, and, therefore, the confidence investors have in it, but its relationships with the European Union and the Western Alliance, as well as its international prestige.

The good points in the left-right populist program are military modernization; a low, flat income tax; anti-corruption policies, including tougher penalties, a prohibition on conflicts of interest for Cabinet members and the elimination of exorbitant public pensions; reductions in the size and cost of government and other political reforms, such as increased federalism (devolution of power to Regions and even to Communes).
           
            The program includes remaining in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but favors dropping economic sanctions against the authoritarian, oligarchical Russian Federation regime of Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.  The language of the program recognizes only Islamism as a threat, while failing to recognize Putin as a threat, whom the populists see only as a partner, despite his invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, which they do not mention.  The pro-Putin parties even encourage him to be an interlocutor in the Middle East, where he has been inflaming matters by backing Iranian-backed terrorists like Hezbollah and Syria’s Assad regime.  The program offers no criticism of Putin for his other machinations, such as aiding the Taliban, supplying oil to North Korea and interfering with elections in Europe and the United States.  The left-right populists who claim to be democratic are silent also about Putin’s authoritarianism, kleptocracy and money-laundering.  The program also includes a reduction in Italian international peacekeeping because the populists are unable to recognize obvious threats to Italy or what is in the Italian national interest, like typical isolationists anywhere.  Italy has been prestigious for being one of the world’s leading peacekeepers. 

The anti-European left-right populist program includes remaining in the European Union and keeping the single currency, the euro, but renegotiating Italy’s relationship with the E.U., including certain E.U. treaties.  Although it would be prudent to renegotiate the relationship and treaties, it is the motivations of the populists that are disturbing.  Their first objection, based upon the excuse of sovereignty, is over the E.U.-imposed constraints on Italian public spending because of the Republic’s high debt, to which Italy has agreed.  They want to renegotiate the subject with the E.U. to pay for their spending spree of tens of billions of dollars on welfare, infrastructure and the undoing of pension reform, among other things.  The populists also want to renegotiate migration and freedom of movement with the E.U.  They claim they would respect human rights, despite their anti-migrant bias, while cracking down on human trafficking and increasing repatriation.  Yet, these policies would keep migrants from being able to flee the war, persecution or famine.  Italy has gained international prestige for leading the European effort to save thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean, for which the E.U. has supported Italy.

Another renegotiation in the left-right populist program would be of the high-speed rail line proposed between Lyon, France and Turin, Italy that the Italian Republic agreed to.  The rail line has been violently opposed by environmentalists, socialists and anarchists.

There would no longer be any extra aid to impoverished Southern Italy in the left-right populist program because of all the extra welfare that would be doled out all over Italy

            There was no mention of any proposed change to the new election law (e.g. awarding a bonus number of seats to the party that wins the most seats, in order to make attaining a majority easier) the elimination of provinces or the proposed bridge between Italy and Sicily.  

           The left-right populist government and program would, because of its slim majority and the fractiousness of the parties, likely be unstable, but yet damaging to Italy.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The 2018 Pennsylvania Primary Elections


Today are the Democratic and Republican Primary Elections in Pennsylvania.  Voters will be choosing nominees for the state offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and the General Assembly (all state House of Representative districts and half the State Senate districts) and for the federal offices of United States Senate and U.S. Representative.

There will also be elections for the party offices of State and County Committee, elected at the county and precinct level, respectively.  

In the Trumpified Republican Party, Republican primaries in Pennsylvania, as elsewhere across the American Union, have often become contests of who can be the Trumpiest.  There are, however, a few candidates who are not Trumpist (populist, protectionist, nativist and isolationist).  It is therefore necessary for conservatives not only to vote for the most conservative qualified candidates who are likely to be elected in the General Election, but also either those candidates who are not Trumpist or are the least Trumpist, as best to represent the Grand Old Party and the conservative movement.

Polls are open until 8:00 P.M.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Foreign Elections Digest: Tunisia, Lebanon, Armenia, Malaysia, Iraq and Italy


Tunisia
            Tunisia held municipal elections earlier this month for the first time under its new constitution, the first such elections since 2011.  They had been delayed for various reasons, including the adoption of an election law.  Although the moderate Islamist party won the most offices, the election was an important step in Tunisia’s transition from dictatorship to a constitutional parliamentary republic.  Tunisia is the freest Arab state.

Lebanon
            Lebanon held its first parliamentary elections in nine years a week ago.  They had been extended since 2013 because of the inability to elect a president. 

            The pro-Western ruling party, whose government is backed by Saudi Arabia and the West, lost seats, both to the Iranian-backed bloc led by Hezbollah, which is a Shi’ite terrorist organization sponsored by Iran, and an anti-Hezbollah Christian party.  Hezbollah’s bloc now has more than a third of the seats in Parliament, enough to veto legislation.  However, the outgoing Prime Minister will likely be able to retain power through a weakened coalition.  Hezbollah is part of the current coalition, despite leading the Shi’ite-dominated opposition bloc.  It is backed by the President, as some Christians have made an alliance with it against the Sunni Muslims.

Elections are sectarian in Lebanon, as the Constitution divides executive power and parliamentary seats by sect, with half the seats reserved for Christian sects and the rest for Muslims and Druze.  The President is always a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of Parliament a Shi’ite Muslim.

             The Lebanese parliamentary elections were the first since the start of the Syrian Civil War, which has occasionally spilled over into Lebanon and which has caused a million Syrians to seek refuge in the small Arab state.  There have been occasional attacks by Islamists.  Lebanon has long been influenced by interference from Syria’s Baathist regime of Bashar Assad, which Hezbollah is backing it the Syrian Civil War.  The war has divided Lebanon politically.  Lebanon itself has had a long history of sectarian violence.

            A weakened economy and corruption were other major issues in the elections.  There was a decrease in turnout, despite the long gap since the previous election and a new election law that allowed proportional representation.            

Armenia
            The opposition leader was elected Armenia’s Prime Minister last week by the Armenian Parliament, as expected, after protests forced his predecessor’s resignation, even though the ruling party has a large majority of the seats in the Parliament.  Also, as expected, there will be no change in policy vis-à-vis the Russian Federation or the West.  The new premier intends to negotiate peace with neighboring Azerbaijan over the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh that has been the source of armed conflict between the two former Soviet Republics since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.        

Malaysia
            The ruling party of Malaysia last week lost the parliamentary elections for the first time in sixty years, as a billion-dollar corruption scandal involving the ruling Prime Minister caused his political downfall.  A former Prime Minister, who had been part of the ruling party, will be the new premier.  Although the nonagenarian former Prime Minster was somewhat authoritarian and Islamist, his election was significant for its anti-corruption theme.  Since last year, corruption has caused the removal from office by various means of the leaders of South Korea, Brazil, Zimbabwe and South AfricaMalaysia was the first since then to remove its leader through election.

Iraq
            Parliamentary elections were held yesterday in Iraq, under extraordinary security.  They are the first elections since Iraq, aided by a U.S.-backed international coalition of Western and Arab states, liberated its territory from the Islamic State Islamist terrorists.  Some cells of the group remain, but although there has been some violence targeting the elections, there is significantly less overall violence than before.  It is hoped that Iraqis can overcome their sectarian divisions.

Italy
            The President of the Italian Republic was preparing the end of last week to name a new government of his choice, led by a new Prime Minister, to guide Italy through another parliamentary election this summer because of a hung parliament.  But then the anti-establishment populist party and the anti-immigrant far-right party appeared to make significant progress toward agreeing to form a government after the conservative party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which won the fourth most votes and seats in the March 4 parliamentary elections, decided it would not support such a coalition externally, but abstain.  The abstention would allow for the formation of a government, as the two other parties would have enough seats on their own.  Therefore, the President has given the two parties more time and they have been working throughout the weekend to form a government.  They are reaching agreement on common points and must decide on a third person to be premier and on cabinet posts.

            The populists won the most votes and seats, while the anti-immigrant party was the largest party within the right-wing bloc, which won the most votes and seats overall, but short of a majority.  In third place overall was the ruling center-left party.  Berlusconi’s center-right party, which was in second place within the right-wing bloc, governs with the far-right party in Regions and local jurisdictions.  The third party in the right-wing bloc, a small conservative party, is also not joining the coalition.

A summer election would be a first for Italy, which does not allow absentee voting.  Italians abroad do have several constituencies.  The other reason there is urgency is because without a budget, which requires a vote of confidence, under European Union rules, Italy’s value added tax would increase dramatically.  Avoiding another vote and having a stable government would be good, but the populism of the two “Trumpist” parties attempting to form a government is disturbing, as they are both pro-Russian (pro-Vladimir Putin), anti-immigrant and protectionist.  They also oppose the European Union’s budget constraints on Italy, despite Italy’s massive debt.  Italy has been in a weak economic recovery and its migrant crisis has been easing.  Nevertheless, these problems, as well as corruption, have increased populist sentiment among Italians. 

Foreign Digest Updates: Yemen, Syria and Russia


Yemen
            Some United States military forces have recently begun assisting the government of Yemen against pro-Iranian Houthi rebels.  The U.S. has been firing missiles from drones at al-Qaeda Islamist terrorists during the War on Terrorism, but is now acting against one of the major participants in the multi-sided Yemeni civil war as it tries to check Iranian influence in Yemen and elsewhere.

Syria
            Iraqi forces have been hitting Islamic State positions in western Syria, in coordination both with Syria and the American-led coalition of Western and Arab States fighting Islamist terrorists like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.  Meanwhile, Israel again hit Iranian military positions last week in Syria after warning that it will not allow the Islamic Republic of Iran to make Syria a forward base from which to attack the Jewish State.  Iran had placed forces in a threatening manner near the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Russia
           Thousands of Russians again took to the streets today to protest Internet censorship by the authoritarian, oligarchical regime of Vladimir Putin.  There were dozens of arrests, as basic freedoms, such as that of peaceful assembly, are not tolerated in the Russian Federation.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Foreign Digest: Armenia, Italy, Spain and Russia


Armenia
            Armenia is in the midst of a peaceful quasi-revolution that is taking place within the constitutional framework.  The President, who was constitutionally term-limited, was appointed Prime Minister by the Parliament a few weeks ago to circumvent the provision, as there are no term limits for premier and the move was coupled with a weakening of the presidency and corresponding increase the power of the Prime Minister.  After mass peaceful protests, the premier resigned last week and his ruling party permitted the opposition leader to be nominated for Prime Minister and implied it would allow him to become premier.  The former Soviet Republic is not a fully free state, although it is tolerant of peaceful assembly. The Armenian Government, although not hostile to the West and maintains a relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is pro-Russian.  Because the opposition leader has stated there will be no foreign policy changes, the Russian Federation is not openly attempting to thwart the democratic uprising, at least for now. 

Italy
            The attempt to form a government between the populist party, which was the individual party that won the most votes and seats in the Italian parliamentary elections in March, and the main center-left party, which came in a distant second, has failed.  This attempt, which came from an exploratory mandate from the President of the Italian Republic last week, followed the failure of a similar mandate to form a government between the populists and the right-wing bloc the week before, which together won the most votes and seats.  The President will hold another set of consultations this week to attempt to resolve the two-month impasse by exploring whether some other combination of parties can obtain a majority to win the required vote of confidence.  Both the populists and the far-right leader of the largest party within the right-wing bloc have called for new elections in June. 

The far-right leader of the anti-immigrant party, who would be premier if his bloc wins a majority, has suggested an amendment to the current election law to award a bonus of seats to the party that gains a plurality.  Late last week, he again called for a coalition government between the right wing bloc and the populists, but this time for only one of limited duration—until December, in order to amend the election law, and to oppose the sales tax increase and the European Union budget.  However, other parties are typically reluctant to changes in the law in a way that would be perceived to benefit a rival party.  As expected, the populists have already rejected the proposal that would likely prevent them from governing and, therefore, reject also the call for such a time-limited government.  Today, they issued a counter offer of a government between the two parties with a third person as premier, but without the main conservative party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Spain
            The Basque separatist terrorist organization, which has long since abandoned violence, is disbanding as an organization.  The organization, which killed several hundred people from the 1960s to the 2000s, was active in Spain and France.  The Spanish Government intends to continue to investigate and prosecute the organization’s leaders.  The Basque Country of Spain enjoys a degree of autonomy. 

Russia 
           There was another wave of protests across the Russian Federation late last week against the authoritarian, oligarchical rule of Vladimir Putin.  The regime arrested thousands of peaceful protestors, including again the main democratic opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, and several journalists.  Basic freedoms are not tolerated by the Putin regime and elections in Russia are hardly free and fair.

Cinfici Was Polled on the Pennsylvania Republican Gubernatorial Primary and Donald Trump


I was polled at the end of last week by Susquehanna Polling and Research on the Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial primary and on Donald Trump.  I do not know if the poll was a public one or an internal one commissioned by one of the gubernatorial candidates.

I responded that I disapproved of Trump’s performance as President.  Like any president, some of his policies have been beneficial and some harmful, but his overtly poor character and illegitimate election through deception, intimidation, hostile foreign assistance and other election law violations means that he can never merit overall approval.  Furthermore, regardless of whether his policies are good, Trump is damaging the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

On the gubernatorial primary, I responded that I had a favorable opinion Laura Ellsworth and did not express a favorable opinion of the other candidates.  I responded that I would likely vote for her.  Even though she may be somewhat less conservative, the pro-life, pro-right to keep and bear arms attorney and business leader was the only candidate not to vote for Trump, which has become an essential standard of measurement.  Alas, in Pennsylvania, as elsewhere, GOP primary elections have become contests of who can be the most Trumpist.  Therefore, I responded that I was dissatisfied with the overall field of candidates.  I also responded that I disapproved of the television advertisements in the gubernatorial primary, even though I have not viewed them, as I have read about them.  As Trump is, the ads have been personal and negative, even though character has been abandoned as an issue by the Republicans who nominated and elected to the highest office in the land and are following the leadership of and defending someone who manifestly is of poor character.  

I was surprised I was not polled on my opinion of Governor Tom Wolf, the liberal Democrat running for reelection.  I would have expressed an unfavorable view.  Wolf has been up to his usual efforts to single out one industry upon which to impose an additional extra tax, on top of the impact fee, on Pennsylvania’s lucrative natural gas industry.  Such a tax would be in addition to the applicable business taxes the industry already pays, which are higher than those of many other States.  Wolf is unpopular, but Trump is dragging the Republican Party down in Pennsylvania to such a degree that Wolf nevertheless leads his Republican rivals in the polls.  Last year’s county and municipal elections in the Keystone State were a harbinger of doom for the Trumpified GOP.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Conservatives and Republicans Are Organizing against Trumpism


           The assault on liberty, the rule of law, equality, the free market and even the truth by Trumpism (the populism associated with Donald J. Trump of protectionism, nativism and isolationism laced with authoritarianism), has inspired many conservative and Republican Americans to organize across the Union over the last year to defend these ideals.

            Several organizations have been established since Trump’s inauguration as President either by conservatives and Republicans that are conservative in ideology or openly Republican or that are nonpartisan and include conservatives and Republicans because they are organized around shared principles or goals. 

These new organizations are in addition to those that are more centrist ideologically which include current or former prominent conservative Republicans who are joining with others across America to liberalize ballot access for non-major-party candidates, either by forming organizations to support such candidates or a centrist political party.  Note: “centrist” may not necessarily mean moderate, but adhering to views of the center-left and center-right part of the spectrum, as opposed to the European-style far-right of Trumpism and white nationalism.  The goal of the conservatives and Republicans involved in these organizations is to challenge Trumpist Republican nominees for office without necessarily advantaging the Democratic Party and the far-left. 

These new organizations are also in addition to various federalist organizations devoted to promoting federalism or which are federalist political parties, either already organized as such or in the process of organizing to become a political party.  The danger of the centralization of power is revealing how necessary the check of the States versus the federal government is in the federal American republic.

The new organizations include nonpartisan organizations which include prominent conservative and Republican Americans, among others, but are focused on particular shared goals that are of interest to conservatives.  One example is The Committee to Investigate Russia (https://investigaterussia.org/).  It is disseminating information about how ex-Soviet intelligence officer Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation has been interfering in American elections, such as on behalf of Trump, as well as elections in allied states, and the various congressional and criminal investigations in to the Russian interference.  Another example is the Renew Democracy Initiative (https://www.renew-democracy.org/), which is a think tank devoted to defending democratic freedom and prosperity.  It also includes several prominent international conservatives.

There are also nonpartisan organizations of conservatives that are based upon a center-right ideology, but are appeal to a broad spectrum of beliefs because of their commitment to shared principles.  A notable example is Stand Up Republic (https://standuprepublic.com/), which is defending the American republic by promoting liberty, equality and truth.  Stand Up Republic is advocating for thorough investigations of Russian Federation interference in the U.S. presidential election and its continued interference in American political discourse, as well as for increasing and strengthening economic sanctions against Putin’s authoritarian, oligarchical regime.  The organization has also effectively opposed Trumpist candidates.  Stand Up Republic is also organizing in States, including in Pennsylvania.  It has a sister organization, Stand Up Ideas (https://standupideas.com/), which is focused on strengthen Americans’ commitment to democratic norms and ideals through education and leadership development.

Another set of organizations are those that are openly Republican.  The most noteworthy example is Republicans for the Rule of Law (http://www.ruleoflawrepublicans.com/), which is defending the Special Counsel who is investigating and prosecuting the Russian interference on behalf of Trump in the American presidential election and any conspiracy by Trump and his campaign with the Russians.  There are even state Republican organizations that are openly non-Trumpist, such as New Way California.  The conservative and moderate members of such organizations intend to avoid conceding the Republican Party to Trumpists by supporting authentic Republican ideals and center-right candidates who hold to them.

            Both Republicans for the Rule of Law and Stand Up Republic have been particularly effective thus far in defending the Special Counsel.  The Senate Judiciary Committee last week approved bipartisan legislation to protect the Special Counsel from unjust firing and other Republican members of Congress have at least warned Trump against taking such action.  The efforts of both organizations to defend the Special Counsel, a combat-wounded veteran Republican with a long, distinguished record of public service and a sterling reputation, have helped somewhat to counteract Trump’s efforts to discredit the investigation through the discrediting the Special Counsel and the prosecutors and investigators employed by him.  

Besides the Republican or federalist organizations, the other organizations are examples of the movement of conservatives to work together with non-conservatives to defend shared principles, despite profound differences in ideology and on policies.  This common commitment demonstrates not that principles like the political independence of law enforcement are liberal, but that they are universal.  Expressing support for certain basic principles of republican government thus does not give any political advantage to liberals, as it validates the parts of conservatism that are held in common with others as principled and reasonable, as well as validates those conservatives who reasonably defend and advance such principles, in contrast to those who have revealed themselves in the age of Trump to have been without principle or abandoned them for political expedience.  

The challenge caused by Trumpism to conservatives and Republicans is encouraging many of them to learn more about the foundations of the American Republic, the Constitution, the law and politics and to hold fast to the principles of patriotism, liberty and representative government.  The significant remnants of the center-right who are organizing in whatever fashion they prefer to defend these principles against Trumpism are bringing honor to the conservative movement and inspire hope that it will rebound from its present state and emerge more principled and respectable.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Foreign Digest Updates: Nicaragua, Italy and Russia


Nicaragua: the Marxist government gives into protesters
            The Marxist Sandinista Nicaraguan Government acquiesced last week to the demands of protestors who had opposed the increasingly authoritarian government’s plans for insurance.  The demonstrations earlier this month were deadly because of the regime’s crackdown.

Italy: update on the Italian Parliamentary Elections
            The President of the Italian Republic gave an exploratory mandate over a week ago to the President of the Senate, a member of the leading conservative party, to see if a coalition government could be formed between the right-wing bloc, which won the most votes and seats in the parliamentary elections in March, and the anti-establishment populists, who were the single party that won the most votes and seats.  After the failure of this mandate, because the populists refused to govern with the Senate President’s party, that of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the President granted an exploratory mandate last week to the President of the lower Chamber of Deputies, who is a member of the populist party, to try to form a government between his party and the center-left party, which won the second most votes, but which was the party’s worst ever result.  The liberals are split over whether to remain in opposition or to try to negotiate the formation of a coalition government with the populists.  There are some areas of agreement between the two parties, but clear differences between the anti-European populists and the pro-European liberals.  A likely result is the failure of this mandate, followed by the calling by the President for new elections.  Both the leading right-wing party and the populists suggest a return to the urns in June.  Based upon polls and the results of regional elections, the right-wing bloc is confident it will again win the most votes and seats, with probably more than it did in March.  The question then would be whether it can gain a majority and which of its two main parties would gain the most votes and thus make a claim to the premiership.

Russia: more protests
           There were more protests in Russia over the weekend as demonstrators took to the streets to protest censorship of the Internet by Vladimir Putin’s oligarchic, authoritarian Russian Federation regime.  There have been protests over the last few months against corruption and the barring of the democratic opposition leader from being a candidate for President.  The freedom of the press and assembly are not respected by the regime and elections in Russia are hardly free and fair. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Foreign Digest: Turkey, Nicaragua and Hungary


Turkey
            The authoritarian Islamist Turkish Government continues its crackdown after the attempted military coup in the summer of 2016, with hundreds of more arrests earlier this month and another extension of the state of emergency that permits the government to exercise even more powers than usual.  Tens of thousands of Turks have been fired or arrested because of alleged ties to the coup plotters.  The crackdown has given the excuse to the increasingly authoritarian Turkish President to quash all dissent.

Nicaragua
            There have been deadly protests over the last several days against the Nicaraguan government’s insurance policies.  The Marxist Sandinista regime had been dictators who took power in 1979 until they lost an election at the end of the Cold War.  They returned to power in the 2010s by winning elections, but, as I have posted previously, they have been somewhat authoritarian, inspired by the socialist revolution of the late Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez.  Chavez was elected President of Venezuela, but became authoritarian, as his Socialist successor.

Hungary
            There were more protests over the weekend against the increasingly “illiberal” government since the election a week ago that the democratic opposition regarded as not totally free and fair.  In Eastern Europe, as in Latin America and Turkey, there has been a trend towards authoritarianism.  In addition to the Russian Federation, the former Soviet satellites of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are among examples of the disturbing drift from liberty.   

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Foreign Digest: Brazil, South Korea, South Africa, Hungary and Syria


Brazil, South Korea and South Africa
            There have recently been several investigations and convictions of former elected Presidents around the world for financial corruption. 

            The former liberal President of Brazil was convicted of corruption and last week began serving his prison sentence.  His successor from the same liberal party had been impeached and removed from office last year for corruption.

The former President of South Korea was convicted of corruption earlier this month.  She had been impeached and removed for corruption.

The former President of South Africa, the leftist who was removed from office last month for corruption, was last week placed under investigation for the same charges.

Hungary
            The far-right anti-immigrant, authoritarian President of Hungary was reelected last week to his third consecutive term and fourth overall. The elections were not completely free and fair, as he has admitted to being “illiberal.” Thousands of protestors took to the streets this weekend to protest the electoral law.  Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic have become less free and, except for Poland, pro-Russian, despite being members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Syria
            After international observers again reported recently that the Baathist Syrian tyrannical regime of Bashar Assad used chemical weapons, including the banned sarin gas, in addition to chlorine, against civilians in Syria’s civil war, the Russian Federation again blocked any action last week by the United Nations Security Council and tried to cast doubt on the obvious facts.  In response, the United States, France and the United Kingdom launched military strikes this weekend against Syrian chemical weapons of mass destruction program (WMD) targets.  The North Atlantic Treaty Organization expressed support for the raid.  The strikes were more robust than those by the U.S. last year that were in response to the Syrian use of chemical WMDs.  However, Donald Trump, the pretender to the American presidency whose election the Russians had supported, telegraphed the strikes to the Syrians and signaled to Syria’s Russian backers ahead of time that they would be limited in scope, focused on chemical WMDs and not regime change.

Russia and Iran are allies of the Assad regime in the war, along with Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist organization sponsored by Iran and SyriaRussia claims its intervention was intended to fight “terrorists” but it backs the terrorist-sponsoring Assad and focuses primarily on targeting non-Islamist rebels.  Syria and Russia commit war crimes by targeting innocent civilians with conventional weapons like barrel bombs in heavily populated areas and by deliberately targeting hospitals.  Russia has long maintained a base on Syria’s Mediterranean coast.  Despite a deconfliction protocol with the U.S., Russian forces have occasionally attacked American positions.  

The Syrian civil war started in 2011 as Syrians rose up against tyranny.  The war has claimed half a million lives and made ten million people refugees, thus creating the largest refugee crisis for Europe since the Second World War.  In addition to non-Islamist and Kurdish rebels, some of which are American-backed, Islamist terrorists like al-Qaeda and its offshoot, the Islamic State, also participate in the multi-sided war.  An international coalition of mostly Western and Arab states led by the U.S. has been targeting the Islamists in Syria and Iraq.  Turkey opposes the Syrian regime but focuses its efforts against the Kurds.  Israel occasionally strikes Hezbollah or Syrian WMD targets.  There has been no international threat to remove the Syrian regime or even to punish it for its non-WMD atrocities.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Nine-Year Blog Visit Report


           StatCounter has now entered its tenth year of tracking visits to my blog, which it has been doing since April 2, 2009.  Since then, more than 7,100 strictly-defined visits have been tracked, not counting my own and counting only identifiable visits to specific pages at least one hour apart.  There were around 340 visits, which was nearly an equal number as last year.  There have been thousands of additional page-views. 

            The blog host, Blogger, tracks many more page-views than StatCounter, but its less specificity allows for less analysis than the latter.

            As has been the case in recent years, most visits have been to my blog’s homepage, instead of to individual posts.  The same posts as before remain the all-time most popular, but with a different distribution of visits over the last year.  Useless Cabinet Departments, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2011/03/useless-cabinet-departments.html; The Reverend Monsignor Felix A Losito, Rest in Peace, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2011/11/reverend-monsignor-felix-losito-rest-in.html; Chester Alan Arthur, the Most Underrated President, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2012/04/chester-arthur-most-underrated-us.html; and Commentary on the Roman Influence on America Exhibit at the Constitution Center, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2010/07/commentary-on-roman-influence-on.html were the most popular since the last report.

            As usual, in addition to Pennsylvania, the American States with the larger populations tend to be the source of most visits.  There were no changes to the all-time leaders in countries that were sources of visits, although there have been fewer from predominately Islamic countries in recent years like Malaysia and Algeria, which were the two leading sources of visits outside the States.  There was a significant increase from Germany this last year.  

           Thank you for visiting, as well as following, commenting or providing positive feedback offline.  I appreciate your patronage.  With liberty increasingly under assault both at home and abroad, it is all the more important to exercise the freedom of expression.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Winnie Mandela Was Not an Anti-Apartheid “Freedom Fighter”


           In the reports from the liberal media today on the death of South African Winnie Mandela, the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, as well as in comments by political observers, she is referred to variously as having been a “freedom fighter” who fought against “injustice” and “apartheid,” the South African racial segregation policy, and is praised as a heroine, albeit a “controversial” one.  These reports and observations are misleading.

            Winnie Mandela promoted the cause of her husband while he was incarcerated for 27 years—not for being anti-apartheid, but for sabotage, and was kept in prison for refusing to renounce violence on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC).  See also my post Nelson Mandela Was neither a Political Prisoner nor Imprisoned for Opposing Apartheid from December of 2013, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2013/12/nelson-mandela-was-neither-political.html.   Her words and deeds were not done for freedom and justice, or even primarily against apartheid, but in favor of Marxist revolution.  Furthermore, she did not oppose apartheid justly, but promoted and committed unjustified violence, meaning that the violence was not limited to fighting the South African military or police, but were crimes against humanity that were usually committed against other blacks who opposed the ANC and its Marxist goals.  South Africa’s post-apartheid reconciliation tribunal determined that she had committed assault, kidnapping, torture and murder.  In addition, she had openly promoted murder, specifically by the ANC’s favorite method of “necklacing,” which was the practice of placing tires around the necks of blacks and setting the victims ablaze.  Winnie Mandela escaped justice for these crimes, but was later convicted of and imprisoned for corruption.  Nelson Mandela later divorced his wife because of her adultery.

            It is important to consider that the ANC got into and has remained in power as the dominant party in South Africa because it had murdered many of its black opponents. 

            The reaction from the left to Mandela’s passing is reminiscent to that in regard to Fidel Castro, the Communist Cuban tyrant, at his death in 2016.  Castro was praised and his killing of several thousand Cubans, torture and oppression, support for Marxist revolution abroad and state sponsorship of terrorism was either ignored or minimized or even justified.  There seems to be a double standard for violence committed by Marxists or by those who justifiably oppose them, as well as a double standard for violence committed against blacks by black leftists versus committed by whites.  There is also a double standard on the left between those who are anti-American and the United States and its allies. 

           Although violence can be justifiable and committed in a legitimate manner, Marxism can never be a justifiable cause to commit violence.  Regardless of the cause it is intended to serve, violence committed for evil reasons, such as crimes against humanity, is necessarily illegitimate.  Such evil deeds ought to be regarded as not as only “controversial,” but universally condemned.  True freedom fighters should be supported and praised and held up as better models than criminals.  

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter!

         
           I wish you a Happy Easter! We are reminded today of the virtue of hope. May God bless you.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

China Retaliates against the United States with Tariffs; Russian Diplomatic Expulsions


Communist China retaliated earlier this week against the United States for the Trump Administration’s imposition of tariffs on certain Chinese imports by raising their own tariffs on American goods.  Tariffs, a tax on imports, increase the cost of the consumption of goods, thereby discouraging their consumption and thus limiting economic freedom.  There is growing concern about a trade war between the U.S. and other trading partners.

There was a coordinated expulsion of Russian diplomats from the U.S., Canada and many European states in solidarity with the United Kingdom for the Russian Federation’s chemical attack on an ex-Russian spy for the British earlier this month that I had posted about.  The Russian diplomats were declared persona non grata for activities inconsistent with their diplomatic mission.  The U.S. expelled Russians from both their U.S. and United Nations missions.  The Russian Consulate in Seattle, Washington was closed.  However, there will be no reduction in the total number of Russian diplomats, as the Russians have reportedly been advised by the Trump Administration that the Russians will be permitted to replace the expelled diplomats. 

            A portion of most states’ diplomats are intelligence agents, but Russian delegations are disproportionately devoted to espionage.  It is one thing for diplomats to learn about conditions in the host country in order to inform their governments in policy-making decisions and another to engage in recruitment of spies and for diplomats to travel beyond their permitted ranges, as was the practice of the Russians.  Russian diplomats apparently had been mapping the American fiber optic cable network, for example.  

           The Russians have retaliated by expelling American diplomats, in the usual diplomatic tit-for-tat practice, and closing the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg.  They have also expelled European and Canadian diplomats.  Ambassadors between Russia and the other states have been summoned or recalled.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Recent Attacks Were Not Terrorist Attacks


           There have been more attacks that have been incorrectly labeled “terrorist” attacks by many.  These are the latest examples of what I have made a regular subject to try to prevent the word terrorism from being diluted or misused.

            As I note regularly, terrorism is the strategy of violent attacks on innocent civilians that are intended to intimidate the populace to urge a government acquiesce to the demands of the terrorists.  Thus, terrorism is defined by its target and its strategy, not by who its perpetrators are or their religious or political motivation or their affiliations and not by its tactics.  Terrorism is a great evil and a war crime. 

There are often other evil acts committed, which may be terrifying to the populace, that are not necessarily terrorism.  There were three recent examples.

            The chemical weapons of mass destruction attack in the United Kingdom by the Russian Federation on a former Russian spy for the British several weeks ago was not an act of terrorism because it was targeted at an individual for retaliation, though indiscriminate in its tactical application.  It was not intended primarily to intimidate the populace.  The attack was nonetheless an act of war.

            The bombings earlier this month in Austin, Texas were not terrorism for a number of reasons.  They appear to have targeted blacks particularly, not the whole populace, which suggests bigotry or possibly even genocide was the motivation, not political intimidation.  The lack of a known demand made by the perpetrator means that the acts lack a central element of terrorism, as there can be no intimidation of a populace to urge a government to acquiesce to the terrorist’s demands if there are no demands made.

            The suicide bombing at a military base in California last week was an act of violent jihad by a militant Islamist associated with the Islamic State.  As the attack targeted the military, not innocent civilians, it was not an act of terrorism.  

           All of these attacks were evil, but of a different kind from terrorism.  

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Fifteenth Anniversary of the Beginning of the Liberation of Iraq


           Last week was the fifteenth anniversary of the commencement of the Liberation of Iraq on March 19, 2003 that removed the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein from power.  The coalition was led by the United States under President George W. Bush and included dozens of Western and Muslim states.

Hussein’s Iraqi brutal regime had committed serial aggression, culminating in its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and violated the 1991 ceasefire it had signed after the Liberation of Kuwait by failing to make reparations to Kuwait and by firing at Coalition aircraft patrolling no-fly zones over Kurdish and Shi’ite areas of Iraq, as well as violated United Nations Resolutions that required it to prove it had destroyed its known weapons of mass destruction and materiel and ceased its programs and not to have missiles over a certain length of range and sponsored terrorism by openly harboring and financing terrorists, including those who targeted and killed Americans.  

Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, had declared the overthrow of Hussein’s regime to be U.S. policy, but after the September 11 Terrorist Attacks, the U.S. was even less willing than before to tolerate terrorism, especially potential large-scale threats from state-sponsors of terrorism, particularly those with weapons of mass destruction programs.  Iraq, a former Soviet client state, had repeatedly used chemical weapons against Iranians and Iraqi Kurds.  The U.N. Security Council had unanimously declared Iraq in “material breach” of its resolutions in regard to weapons of mass destruction, which expressly meant it would face “serious consequences,” which was diplomatic language for the use of force.  Therefore, although there was some reasonable debate about the prudence of the war, there were abundant justifications.

Hussein’s regime was toppled within weeks with relatively low casualties for the American-led “Coalition of the Willing,” but the Baathists had fostered Islamists to conduct a post-regime guerilla and terrorist campaign, in alliance with al-Qaeda in Iraq, which had been present before the beginning of the war.  Al-Qaeda encouraged violent jihadists to come to Iraq, where they were easier to kill or capture than in Afghanistan.  Unable to win militarily, the militant Islamists engaged in a campaign to kill enough American and allied servicemen to turn public opinion against the war.  Before the war, public opinion surveys suggested the American people would tolerate up to the same number of fatalities as lost on September 11, nearly 3,000, but the Islamists were successful in turning public opinion much sooner, as the Coalition had been victimized by its own early success in removing the Baathists from power with less than expected losses. 

There has also been criticism about the post-war management by the Bush Administration, but although Iraq was far from perfect, after some Coalition changes in strategy, it was relatively peaceful and stable enough for President Barack Obama to justify ending the war and withdrawing in 2013.  However, as predicted by Bush, without a status of forces agreement to allow American troops to remain, the premature withdrawal allowed al-Qaeda in Iraq, which broke away from al-Qaeda and renamed itself the “Islamic State,” to seize large swaths of northern and western Iraq, with the continued help of Baathist remnants, and to engage in a terrorism campaign, as well as for Iran and Syria to extend their malign influence over Iraq.  The Islamists declared a Muslim Caliphate, but have recently been all but defeated in Iraq and Syria.    

When calculating the cost of the Liberation of Iraq in blood and treasure, it is necessary to consider the costs of the continuation of the status quo ante, such as the keeping of troops to defend Iraq’s neighbors and to continue the no-fly zones.  Those who claim Iraq and the region were destabilized by its Liberation forget that Iraq was not stable or peaceful and neither Iraq nor the region was stable and to the extent that Iraq was stable it was only because of the degree of totalitarianism imposed in the “Republic of Fear.”  Iraq had not been internally peaceful and was at war with the Coalition since before Bush took office, such as attacking Coalition aircraft nearly on a daily basis, as Hussein, who regarded himself as another Saladin (the Muslim commander who fought the Christian Crusaders), had considered the “Mother of All Battles,” his name for the Liberation of Kuwait, never to have ended.  Thus, Iraq had been attacking Americans both military and through terrorism. 

Instead of labeling the Liberation of Iraq as some kind of a blunder or useless waste, it is appropriate to consider and appreciate the accomplishments of the Coalition troops.  The American and allied troops liberated Iraq from a tyrant and gave the Iraqi people the ability to exercise self-determination, brought him and his henchmen to justice for crimes against humanity, protected Iraq’s neighbors from intimidation, enforced U.N. resolutions, captured and killed thousands of Islamist jihadists and captured and destroyed thousands of chemical weapons of mass destruction, including hundreds that had not been known to U.N. inspectors, and the banned chemicals used to make them.  As additional benefits of the Liberation of Iraq, the oil embargo was lifted and the large number of American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, where they had been under attack and their presence had provided al-Qaeda with an excuse to attack Americans, were withdrawn on U.S. terms, instead of through the demands of Islamist terrorists.  

Now that Iraq, now an ally in the War on Terrorism instead of a sponsor of it, is returning to peace, it is hoped that its internal divisions can be healed and it will be able to defend itself on its own against Islamists, without reliance on Iran or Syria, and that the constitutional parliamentary republic can more fully enjoy self-determination and increased prosperity.

United States 2018 Spending Bill Is Signed into Law


           The President of the United States signed into law the omnibus spending bill passed by the majority Republican Congress for fiscal year 2018 to fund federal agencies avoid another government shutdown.  The law is of mixed benefit and harm.

            The law appropriates $1.3 trillion more than expected revenue, a record large budget deficit.  It continues to fund federalized health insurance (Obamacare) and Planned Parenthood. 

           On the positive side, it includes additional sanctions on the Russian Federation, and provides the following: funds to assist States in defending against foreign election interference, lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine, increased defense spending, increased security for diplomatic missions, and increased border security, without including any concrete wall on the Mexican border, such as Donald Trump had promised during his presidential campaign that Mexico would pay for.  

           Although an increase in defense spending was particularly necessary after several years of cuts, in addition to the other items, conservatives must return to fiscal restraint as soon as possible.

Foreign Digest: Italy, Russia and Iran


Italian election update           
            Through a deal between the right-wing bloc and the populists, a populist was elected President of the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, as his party individually won the largest seats, and a center-right party member was elected President of the Senate late last week, as the right-wing bloc had won the most seats collectively.  The populists are now in parliamentary leadership for the first time.  The elections were the first step toward the formation of a new government.  

Russian targeting of hospitals: new American sanctions
            A United Nations study issued late last week concluded that the Russian Federation deliberately targeted hospitals in Syria for bombing in support of the Syrian Baathist regime of Bashar Assad in the country’s civil war.  Non-Islamist rebels, Kurds and Islamists are fighting the Assad regime in the multi-sided war.  The United States, which also backs some of the non-Islamists and Kurds, leads an international coalition of Western and Arab states against the Islamists.  Assad, Iran’s main ally, like Iran, which is also supporting Assad militarily, is a state sponsor of terrorism.  The Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization Hezbollah is another major Assad ally in the war.

            New economic sanctions against the Russian Federation were signed into law late last week by the President of the United States in the omnibus spending bill approved by the Republican-led Congress.

Iranian hacking 
           A United States federal grand jury indictments were unsealed yesterday of Iranians, working for an agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for hacking into scores of American universities, five federal government agencies, two States and several American private companies.  The Iranians also hacked into foreign universities.  Tyrannical theocratic Iran, which exports Islamist revolution, is the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Updates on Russia: Rigged Elections, Putin Conference, Russian Attacks on Americans and Allies


           There have been numerous developments lately in regard to the Russian Federation, such as rigged presidential elections, an anti-Putin international conference and more announcements by the United States of Russian attacks on Americans.

            The Russian Federation conducted a presidential election yesterday that was not free and fair.  Freedom of expression is limited in Russia and opposition candidates, except for token ones or ones that make the regime candidates seem moderate are not permitted to stand for election.  The democratic opposition boycotted the rigged elections, through which Russia’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, arranged for himself another six-year term.  International election -monitoring organizations, like human rights organizations, observed the lack of free and fair elections.  The former Soviet intelligence officer has ruled Russia as president or prime minister since 2000.

            At last week’s Putin Conference in New York City, numerous Russian dissidents, human rights organization leaders, academic experts, investigators and journalists discussed the origin and nature of the Russian Federation’s authoritarian regime and oligarchy and its malign influence in the world, as well as methods of defending liberty around the world against Russia and to encourage freedom for the Russian people.  One relevant piece of advice as not to refer to Putin as “president,” something I have long been avoiding, or what took place yesterday as an “election.”  One of the participants in the conference, Russian dissident Garry Kasparov, the great chess Grand Master, penned a follow-up piece on this subject, for the Weekly Standard: http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-truth-about-putin/article/2011882

            Last week, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Russians for interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and for a cyberattack on American infrastructure.  The Republican-majority Congress had overwhelmingly approved sanctions on Russia last year for human rights violations.  Donald Trump, who was elected President with Russian assistance, had opposed the measure, which caused a delay in its passage, but signed it into law because of a veto-proof majority had voted in favor of it.  He then delayed implementing the sanctions until after the legal deadline and then only minimally, although the imposition of sanctions had symbolic significance.  The Russian entities and individuals sanctioned either were already on sanctions lists or have little, if any, assets in the U.S. to freeze.  However, the sanctions were an acknowledgement by the Trump Administration of Russian interference in the presidential election.  They also validate the investigation into Russian interference by Special Counsel Robert Mueller because the sanctions were imposed on the Russian entities and individuals whom Mueller’s grand jury had indicted for their propaganda and disinformation campaign.  There were also sanctions imposed on Russians for hacking into American energy, water and aviation control systems.  Such sophisticated attacks can only be carried out in an authoritarian state by the regime’s orders.

            The Russian cyberattack on American infrastructure, like the Russian interference in the election, was the latest of several attacks by the Russian Federation on Americans announced in recent weeks by the U.S. government, as I have been posting.  The others were the economically-damaging Russian cyberattack on Ukraine last year that hit 70 countries, including American companies, and the attack by Russian mercenaries on U.S. forces in Syria on behalf of the Iranian-backed terrorist-sponsoring tyrant Bashar Assad.  In addition, as I noted in my last post, Russia attacked the United Kingdom, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member and the closest ally of the U.S., with a chemical weapons attack.  

Among other machinations, the Russian Federation, which had invaded Georgia in 2008, where it established puppet-states in breakaway provinces there, invaded Ukraine in 2014 and continues to back a rebellion by ethnic Russian separatists.  It also provides fuel for Communist North Korea, the repressive regime developing a nuclear weapons and missile program that proliferates such weapons to other rogue regimes, like Iran and Syria.    

Over the years, I have been warning on this blog about the threat posed by the Russian authoritarian regime.  The degree of the threat is becoming increasingly clear to more and more Americans and others, although many, even in the West, continue to be unsure, indifferent or even openly supportive of Putin because they are influenced by Russian propaganda, disinformation and conspiracy theories that deny or excuse Russian misbehavior or because they place economic concerns above security or have personal financial motivations.  Americans and other freedom-lovers around the world must continue to learn about Russian motivations, goals and methods and be more wary, principled and courageous.  They must support measures, such as those discussed at the Putin Conference, that defend liberty around the world and encourage freedom in Russia.  A free Russia would be the greatest benefit to liberty everywhere.  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Foreign Digest: Syrian Civil War Anniversary, New German Government, the United Kingdom Response to Russia’s Attack


Syrian Civil War Seventh Anniversary
            The seventh anniversary of the Syrian Civil War was marked last week.  The rebellion against the tyrannical Baathist regime of Bashar Assad and his brutal suppression of it has claimed several hundred thousand lives and displaced ten million people, causing the largest refugee crisis for Europe since the Second World War.  Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism, is backed by Iran and their ally, the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization Hezbollah, and the Russian Federation.  Moderate Muslims, Kurds and Islamists terrorists, such as al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” are the rebels in the multi-sided war.  Turkey is fighting Kurdish guerillas, some of whom are associated with Marxist terrorists, while an American-led coalition of Western and Arab states has been targeting the Islamists.  The Syrian regime and its allies targets civilian areas for bombing, including with chemical weapons.

Germany’s New Grand Coalition Government Takes Office
            Germany’s conservative-liberal grand coalition government was sworn into office last week, six months after parliamentary elections in September of last year failed to give a majority to any party.  The ruling center-right party of Chancellor Angela Merkel and its conservative Bavarian allies won the most votes and seats.  They are now joined in government by the main center-left party, with Merkel in her fourth term as Chancellor.  The new government excludes the far-left and the pro-Russian, anti-European far-right.

The United Kingdom Responds to a Russian Chemical Weapons Attack on British Soil
            After a chemical weapon attack committed earlier this month by the Russian Federation against an ex-Russian spy for the United Kingdom, the British Government responded last week.  The U.K. response included the expulsion of Russian spies posing as diplomats, a suspension of high-level contacts between the two governments, a freeze on Russian state assets, and checks on customs, private flights and freight.  Also, no British officials will attend the World Cup in Russia.  The British are considering stronger measures, such as freezing of assets of the many Russian oligarchs in London.  The attack with a nerve agent that had been manufactured in the Soviet Union seriously sickened the spy, his daughter and a police officer.  More than a score were treated and hundreds had to decontaminate themselves and their homes.  All 29 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, including the United States, expressed solidarity with the United Kingdom and blamed Russia for the attack.  Member states are considering a coordinated response to the Russian attack. 

           A police inquiry was opened last week into the deaths of 14 Russians on British soil over the last several years.  Since then, another Russian exile who was an associate of a critic of Vladimir Putin, the authoritarian leader of the Russian Federation, was apparently murdered.  A previous U.K. investigation had determined that the Russian government had murdered in London an ex-Russian spy who had become a Putin critic with highly-radioactive polonium.  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Right Wing Bloc Won the Most Seats in the Italian Parliamentary Elections, but Not a Majority


The right-wing bloc of parties won the most votes and seats in the Italian parliamentary elections in both chambers, but fell short of a majority necessary to form a government.  The anti-establishment populist party won the most votes and seats of any individual party, while the center-left bloc came in third.

The right-wing bloc is made up of three parties that won seats.  The far-right anti-immigrant Northern League, which won the third most votes and seats of any individual party, edged the center-right party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which came in fourth.  A smaller more conservative party also reached the 3% threshold to win seats, while a bloc of centrists and center-right parties within the right-wing bloc failed to qualify.  By agreement among the parties, the League leader would be the bloc’s choice for premier, as the leader of the party that won the most votes within the bloc.

The populists, who argue that they deserve a mandate to try to form a government, refuse to govern with any other party and would only accept into any coalition government they might lead those who accept their platform.  The ruling center-left party, which was the only party within its bloc to win seats, prefers to remain in the opposition, instead of governing with radicals like the populists and the Northern League.  The League leader prefers to govern only with his bloc, not either of the other two parties.  He also opposes any limited-time or purpose governments, such as a grand coalition to amend the election law to give a bonus number of seats to the party winning the most votes in order to obtain a majority.  Therefore, it will be difficult for a government to be formed under these circumstances because no one can obtain a vote of confidence, which requires a majority.  The Italian President likely would give the League and then the populists a mandate to explore the formation of a government, but they would each likely fail, which would necessitate other options.

A combination of the Berlusconi’s conservatives and the center-left would not have enough votes, but the League and the populists, who share much of a radical platform of being anti-European, anti-immigrant, pro-Russian, protectionist and anti-vaccination, would have a bare majority.  However, it might be difficult for the League leader to accept being in government as a junior partner, instead of as prime minister.  Even this arrangement would likely not be stable, as the parties disagree on other matters, although it might be the least unstable option of all.  The President also has other options, such as installing a limited-time or purpose government, for example, to amend the election law, or to install a technical government.  The other option is for the Italians to hold another parliamentary election in two months.  Those voters who voted for the small parties that did not win seats would likely vote for one of the larger parties that did.  It is possible that some centrists from either bloc could vote for Berlusconi’s center-right party to make it the largest party within the winning right-wing bloc to prevent the League leader at least from being premier, if not out of government. 

In the meantime, the outgoing center-left-center-right coalition remains in power as a caretaker.