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The wave of corruption scandals that is engulfing Italy prompts me to ask if we are witnessing a “1992 moment” – that is to say, the start of an unstoppable process that will sweep away much of the political establishment.
The question has two answers. The first is that the Italian upheaval of 20 years ago, though it destroyed the old political party system, promised more fundamental change than it ultimately delivered. So do not raise your expectations too high today.
Some optimistic political commentators thought it safe in the 1990s to suggest that Italy’s corrupt post-1945 First Republic, dominated by the Christian Democrats and their allies, was giving way to a cleaner, more responsible Second Republic. But these hopes turned out to be misplaced.
Secretive networks of influence and self-indulgence at the expense of taxpayers continued, and continue, to shape the activities of the political classes. The mafia, rampant in the 1980s and early 1990s, shrank to some extent into the shadows, but it has never loosened its connections to politics, business and state administration. Read more
Welcome to the US election round-up on the morning of the second presidential debate, with polls showing the closest race for the White House since the Bush/Gore election in 2000 that was finally decided in the Supreme Court.
The RCP rolling average of polls is constantly changing – hardly a surprise when 10 national surveys of voting intention are published every day – but after showing a tie late on Monday night, Tuesday dawned with Mitt Romney holding a 0.1 per cent lead over President Barack Obama. Read more
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Commentary on international affairs, with Gideon Rachman and his colleagues