From Italy, your latest warning about the danger of having three (or four, or five . . .) political parties

Every time you think our political system produces too much gridlock, or that more political parties might somehow make things better, there’s a good chance some European country is holding an election whose results will prove you wrong.

This week, it’s Italy. If you didn’t notice what happened there, your 401(k) almost certainly did yesterday. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s explanation of the election results there:

Early Tuesday, the left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party’s Pier Luigi Bersani appeared to have gained a razor-thin victory in the lower house of parliament over the center-right coalition headed by Mr. Berlusconi — 29.6% to 29.2%, final data from the Interior Ministry showed. By leading the vote count in the lower house, the Democratic Party will automatically get the majority of 340 out 630 seats and, therefore, will likely receive the mandate to form a government.

The Senate, however, appeared headed for political impasse. The Democratic Party was the leading vote-getter in the upper house as well, by less than one percentage point. But its 31.6% result fails to provide its coalition with a majority to pass legislation. If a new government isn’t able to guarantee clear parliamentary support, Italians could return to the polls within months.

Battle lines were already being drawn late Monday. The Democratic Party declared slim victories in both houses, saying it will keep Italy’s interests in mind during this “very delicate situation for the country.” But a top official in Mr. Berlusconi’s center-right coalition said he is asking the country’s interior minister to call the vote a draw.

The apparent stalemate reflects the groundswell of support for former comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement. His throw-the-rascals-out platform drew enough voters to give it nearly as many votes as Italy’s mainstream coalitions — 25.6% in the lower house, according to final data from the Interior Ministry, making it the single largest party in that house.

Lest you miss some of the finer points of what happened there, I’ve put them in bold. The party that forms a government will not be the one that got the most votes — that would be the one led by a former comedian — but rather the one that had the largest coalition of parties. Historically, this coalition approach has not been a stable one. Returning to the polls in the coming months would simply mean the Democratic Party’s hold on power was about as long as Italy’s post-World War II average.

Nevertheless, even though this coalition got less than 30 percent of the votes, it gets 54 percent of the seats. In what way is that more representative of the will of the people than our system with two parties for which many people have to hold their noses when voting?

One does not have to embrace fully our own Republican or Democratic parties to recognize that precious little in the way of better governance would be accomplished by splitting up either or both of them. Better for people disappointed in one or the other to work to strengthen it.

– By Kyle Wingfield

145 comments Add your comment

Coop

February 26th, 2013
9:59 am

Then I guess the Republican party should evolve into a true FISCAL CONSERVATIVE, socially liberal party. If not, then Democrats will be in power for a long time.

History has never been on the side of the socially conservative ideology. As the world becomes smaller, we become more diverse. This is a good thing in which all americans have rights and can contribute as a resource to this great country.

Cutty

February 26th, 2013
10:08 am

Same thing happened here in 2000. Gore won the popular vote and the Supreme Court elected Bush. Look how that turned out.

Aynie Sue

February 26th, 2013
10:10 am

The problem is not the number of political parties; it is the supremacy of local, selfish interests over the national interest. The solution is not two parties: just look how that’s working in the USA!

One of our two parties is an unstable, downright weird, alliance of the greedy rich and the excitable rabble. That party has no real platform except to oppose whatever the other party favors. It is incapable of governing, serves only to obstruct and delay measures in the national interest, and shows no respect for the rules of governance defined in our Constitution.

Cutty

February 26th, 2013
10:13 am

The cons in PA, MI, VA and elsewhere are trying to rig the election by issuing electoral college votes based on who won in a congressional district. Romney would’ve won the most electoral votes in MI, even though he got drubbed in the popular vote.

Cons scream about liberty, freedom, and the Constitution until their on the brink of irrelevancy then all that crap is thrown out the window.

East Cobb RINO, Inc (LLC)

February 26th, 2013
10:17 am

The only thing worse than the European style 3 or more party system is the Cuba/China/N Korea/etc single party system.

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
10:23 am

Cutty,

That turned out just great. In less than a year Bush had revitalized a demoralized country into a fighting machine. Kept America safe from then on. We all pulled together. Then came….u kno……

Ah ;the ITALIANS, how they do love to PARTY! I think they also like elections. Just have one every three or four months and celebrate!

Of course, Kyle is warning us that the talk of splitting parties has no favorable points. True the ride over the cliff has people running in all directions, NOT that more than two parties would help.

So let us not consider such a state unless the Dems wish to have the Dependents, the Semi dependents and Super dependents split as the three Helpless Parties.. Just a thought!!

Now pass the spghetti!!

Chip

February 26th, 2013
10:27 am

So Italy gets a government that can’t do anything and thus can’t grow or get in the way of the people. Isn’t that a good thing?

sailfish

February 26th, 2013
10:30 am

**Bush had revitalized a demoralized country into a fighting machine**

Revisionist history if I ever heard anything, 911 occurred on his watch! He then promply took us into a war of choice in iraq, one in which the french, the pope, myself and millions of others warned against but nooooo.
Hey, what about obama, has he not “kept us safe”?

As far as italian politics goes, I’ll take one clint eastwood spaghetti western please, thank you – to go.

Jefferson

February 26th, 2013
10:33 am

Fear monger !!!

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
10:34 am

Now comes AYNIE with her usual babble,

Today is “greedy rich and exctable rabble”"

Cutty got around to mentioning Romney

(Just a way to forget his persistent insomnia!)

He’s wishing for Bush to save us again.

“Cause Obama is only whistlin’ in the wind.

indigo

February 26th, 2013
10:35 am

Kyle, if things get much worse here politically, people will be so fed up they won’t much care that “precious little in the way of better governance” will be the result of three or more politcal parties.

MarkV

February 26th, 2013
10:35 am

Although I have little general liking for political systems with multiple parties, I wonder what fundamental objection can be made against people joining parties based on common interests, and then forming coalitions based on the compatibility of those interests. The primary objection seems to be the possibility of a political turmoil when formation of those coalitions is difficult to achieve. In view of the current political situation in the US, I am not sure that we can lecture others on the best way to govern.

Cutty

February 26th, 2013
10:37 am

bin Laden determined to strike.

‘Then came… u know….’

Bush reading My Pet Goat
Two unfunded wars
Unfunded Prescription Drug Bill (the socialism)
Economy crashed and job losses were averaging 700K per month on the Shrub’s last few months in office.

So to correct you Dusty, Bush kept us safe AFTER the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.

Road Scholar

February 26th, 2013
10:37 am

Italia Democratic= Left; Burlusconni = right center

Does Italy have a “Tea Party”? A Grappa party?

Dusty: Mama Mia! Would the Repubs want to have the right of center ones, the further righties, and the “Bat-Sh*t crazy farthest right” members split into 3 further helpless parties? Just a thought!!!

indigo

February 26th, 2013
10:39 am

Dusty – 10:23

Have you been keeping up with recent events from that “fighting machine” country called Iraq?

Or, did you mean that “fighting machine” America, fighting to keep from going into another recession, thanks to your Republican political idols.

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
10:42 am

Poor sailfish, flipped a fin!,

Revisionais history, his personal sin!

Wants all credit just for Obama.

Who pushes us cliffside with so much kharma!

Centrist

February 26th, 2013
10:43 am

A glaring problem with a democracy or even a democratic republic like ours is that pandering to those who vote for transfer payments from producers to subsidize themselves works.

md

February 26th, 2013
10:46 am

“One of our two parties is an unstable, downright weird, alliance of the greedy rich and the excitable rabble.”

Coming from a party that just ran and won with an electorate that voted for others to pay what they themselves were unwilling to.

Now that is “rich”…………..

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
10:48 am

Poor Cutty and Scholar, off road again,

In Iraq we certainl\y did win!

But nothng since then sad to say.

‘Cause now we’re trying Obama’s way.

(Put that in your CLIFF notes next time you vote!)

md

February 26th, 2013
10:49 am

“Two unfunded wars
Unfunded Prescription Drug Bill (the socialism)”

And you are aware that neither of the 2 listed were ended the day the dems took over the gov’t in 2008……..right?

JDW

February 26th, 2013
10:50 am

@Kyle…”One does not have to embrace fully our own Republican or Democratic parties to recognize that precious little in the way of better governance would be accomplished by splitting up either or both of them. ”

Heck I don’t want to split them, I want to nuke them both. I would like non-partisan elections for every office. Do away with party primarys…have one primary top two vote getters, no matter which party they are in, face off.

I wouldn’t hurt my feelings if we did away with the whole Majority/Minority thing…one set of leadership that everyone votes on.

Centrist

February 26th, 2013
10:51 am

And the other half of voting for more self serving transfer payments (and lower/no taxes) is that such voters and their pandering politicians ignore exploding debt to pay for it.

JDW

February 26th, 2013
10:53 am

@Dusty…”In less than a year Bush had revitalized a demoralized country into a fighting machine.”

:roll:

Yep those prior years of econmoic growth, balanced budget and safety were really demoralizing…could I have some more please?

Now you want to talk demoralizing…2001-2008…Thats demoralizing!

MarkV

February 26th, 2013
10:55 am

“A glaring problem with a democracy or even a democratic republic like ours is that pandering to those who vote for transfer payments from producers to subsidize themselves works.”

The usual garbage about “producers” and “receivers of payments,” where the “receivers” include people that clean your streets, flip your burgers, rotate your tires, and the “producers” include heads of the companies that try to get from the “receivers” as much of their meager income as possible.

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
10:59 am

INDIGO doesn’t know we won in Iraq.

No more dictator at our back.

Now Indig’s saying all is well!

That a sixteen trillion deficit is really swell..

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

February 26th, 2013
11:01 am

If the Republicans cave on the suckwester, I say we break them up into little pieces and fight over the scraps. Why not, if we can’t cut 1.5% of our spending, then let’s just become Italy.

southpaw

February 26th, 2013
11:01 am

Splitting up a party (or parties) could have one good effect–more gridlock. Less activity by government officials = less damage to the governed.

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
11:03 am

Now, MarkV, he’s really fine,

He’s got all workers in his mind.

Fair for one & fair for all.

But democracy lets some rise and some to fall.

Retired Soldier

February 26th, 2013
11:07 am

Exactly Dusty, this country provides equal oppertunity, not equal outcomes.

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
11:09 am

JDW, wouldn’t you know,

Hates Bush’s years of yore.

What made Democrats really hurt,

Voters thought Dems were totally inert!

They still ARE.. See that cliff over THAR!!

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

February 26th, 2013
11:10 am

‘In America, you have a right to be stupid, if you want to be… and we tolerate that,’ Kerry said to a packed Internet cafe in Berlin

He knows his political party well.

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
11:11 am

Right, RETIRED SOLDER. March on!

MarkV

February 26th, 2013
11:13 am

Dusty @ 11:03 am

“Fair for one & fair for all.
But democracy lets some rise and some to fall.”

I would not try to compete with Dusty’s poetic erudition, but it is worth noting that the concept of democracy is not about who does rise and who does fall.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

February 26th, 2013
11:17 am

Yeah, they didn’t have a wall, they didn’t have any guards, anybody could just hop aboard their bicycle and cross back forth over the border at will -

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recalled for young Germans Tuesday when he snuck out of the American embassy in divided postwar Berlin at age 12 for a clandestine bicycle ride into the Soviet-controlled eastern part of the city.

What ever happened to honesty?

MarkV

February 26th, 2013
11:24 am

John Kerry was 12 in 1955.

The Berlin Wall was erected in the night of August 13, 1961.

Matt321

February 26th, 2013
11:25 am

What is the problem here? In Italy, they had a vote. The coalition of parties that got the most votes, and thus has the best claim to a “mandate,” under the Italian system, is given bonus seats, so that it is given a chance to govern the country. In the Senate, the people had a vote, and the vote was not conclusive – there is no mandate, and governance may not be possible. If that proves to be the case, voters get a chance to examine why a coaltion couldn’t come together, and vote for new representation.

On the other hand, in the American system, how many people voted for a party/coaltion doesn’t matter at all, as we have geographic districts. Thus, though Democrats got roughly a million more votes for House members than Republicans, Republican still lead the House. Also, under the American system, we have elected a Democratic Senate, a Republican House, and a Democratic President that are completely incapable of working together or governing the country (forget who is at fault for that for a moment). Under the Italian system, we’d have new elections, until we could elect people who would agree to work together, pass budgets, and take care of our nation’s problems. In the American system, we can’t govern, budgets aren’t passed, problems go unsolved, we lurch from crisis to crisis, and praythat things don’t get too bad until the next election, 2 years later, when hopefully next time our crazy electoral system will produce a working government.

jconservative

February 26th, 2013
11:26 am

One might argue that the current House is a three party institution with a coalition of the Republican and the Tea Party loyalists temporarily in control.

bluecoat

February 26th, 2013
11:26 am

Repubs why are thou wroth? and why is thou countenance fallen?If thou doest well, shall thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well,defeat lieth at the door.

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
11:32 am

Dear MarkV

My erudiction

Is almost fiction!

Not to mention

My party affiliation!

I view Italians with some affection

‘Cause I’d love to be there on vacation.

But let democracy stand as is,

Our brotherhood must not fizz..

(PS..LIked your reading list. Want to follow up on some of them.)

bluecoat

February 26th, 2013
11:32 am

We would do well with a two party system.

MiltonMan

February 26th, 2013
11:33 am

“Same thing happened here in 2000. Gore won the popular vote and the Supreme Court elected Bush. Look how that turned out.”

Same ‘ole Lib Logic: refuse to identify the truth (CNN, LA Times, etc., etc.- all determined that Bush won) and keep that party line lie

Just Saying..

February 26th, 2013
11:35 am

I’d think the Tea Party would have already provided all the evidence required…

Retired Soldier

February 26th, 2013
11:35 am

One might argue that the current House is a three party institution with a coalition of ubber leftists and John Barrow Party in the minority and the Republicans in the majority.

Centrist

February 26th, 2013
11:36 am

@ MarkV – I was referring to transfer payments from a two income working families to healthy non-working folks – not CEO’s to the working class as you describe with your hyperbole.

The unemployed poor and working poor are cared for in America. But heaping more and more programs and benefits to gain their votes while debt explodes is a recipe for the disaster we now face. We have a huge untaxed underground economy on top of the 47% of the electorate who have no income tax obligation at all. Expanding the tax base with a consumption based tax would help with revenue a lot more than the most recent added tax on the few household that make more than $450K/yr in taxable income. But that logical step does not buy massive votes.

md

February 26th, 2013
11:36 am

” In the American system, we can’t govern, budgets aren’t passed, problems go unsolved, we lurch from crisis to crisis, and praythat things don’t get too bad until the next election, 2 years later, when hopefully next time our crazy electoral system will produce a working government.”

We go crisis to crisis BECAUSE of the periods where one party was allowed to do their own thing…….I’ll take the stalemate thanks.

Dusty

February 26th, 2013
11:37 am

ERUDITION!! wrong composition!! not erudiction awwww something or other..

getalife

February 26th, 2013
11:37 am

Italians voted no on austerity but we could use a choice to dissolve congress.

MarkV

February 26th, 2013
11:40 am

Dusty 11:32 am

Dear Dusty

I like your poems, and I like democracy, and I believe it can work in various forms.

(PS. Please let me know what you liked.)

Retired Soldier

February 26th, 2013
11:43 am

Well said Centrist.

HDB

February 26th, 2013
11:44 am

Retired Soldier
February 26th, 2013
11:07 am

“Exactly Dusty, this country provides equal opportunity,”

Depends on which segment you refer to…….this country doesn’t provide equal OPPORTUNITY to certain segments of society…although too many people still believe that falsity!! Ask those who are over 50 and looking for work….for one……