Prodi's problems

The Prodi government, which squeaked by then-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's right wing coalition in April's election, has more to worry about than the Mideast; it faces a broad array of domestic unrest. Enrico Deaglio, editor-in-chief of the magazine Diario, recently released a video accusing the Right of manipulating a computer system to falsify the election results. The Prodi alliance won by 24,000 votes over Berlusconi's "House of Liberty"; the Center-Left majority now has 158 seats in the Senate while the opposition has 156. There is also one independent senator. The Deaglio expose has led Parliament to call for a recount of 1,093,277 allegedly invalid votes. Berlusconi, for his part, is calling for a recount of all ballots, including those cast by Italians living abroad, where the procedures were sometimes shaky, in the hope that evidence will be found to support his post-election statement that he was the real victor. There is also widespread dissatisfaction with Prodi's new tax laws, which cut benefits for many categories of employee. And then there is the Italian connection to the murder by radiation poisoning of Russian ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Mario Scaramella, the enigmatic Italian who met with Litvinenko in London on the day of his poisoning (Scaramella was slightly contaminated) had served on the 2002 Mitrokhin Commission, which examined the Italian section of 300,000 files delivered to the UK by former KGB archivist Vasilif Mitrokhin. The commission never issued a final report and the files were never made public. Thirty-four distinguished historians have appealed for access to the files. "In every democratic system free research by scholars and intellectuals is a necessary counterbalance to make sure that the use of documents in ascertaining the truth regarding the past of the nation does not depend exclusively on the outcome of political competition," they wrote to legislative leaders. They said that while Nazis and fascists have been tried starting two generations ago, the identities and crimes of Communist collaborators in Italy have not been addressed. Italy is also struggling with issues of Church and State. Laws regarding euthanasia, legal rights for unmarried straight and same-sex couples, as well as illegal immigration and integrating new arrivals, generate daily debates that cut across party lines and are partially responsible for the inability of coalition and opposition parties to agree on principles that would allow them to form, respectively, a "Democratic Party" that could join the European Socialist block, and a Moderate-Center party.