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Illusion v Reality

The Italians go to the polls today.    It looks like it will be a tight contest - and, surprisingly, that Berlosconi is in contention.    And after his appalling record - personally and in the Courts!

It all seems like illusion versus reality, as The New York Times's reporter in Italy - having lived there for 32 years - says......

"It takes a certain talent to live in happy denial, to slide toward the edge of a precipice and be perfectly relaxed about it. Of all the talents that Italians are renowned for, such nonchalance is perhaps their greatest. Their economy is in deep recession; more than one in three young adults are unemployed; they are unable to compete economically with their neighbors; yet they continue as if nothing were happening, or as if a small glitch in the dolce vita could be fixed with the wave of a wand.

In particular, whether in awe or horror, they continue to be enchanted by the pied piper Silvio Berlusconi, the former and perhaps future prime minister and fabulously wealthy media magnate. In the run-up to the elections that begin today, he has promised to abolish the stiff property tax that was introduced by the previous government and is largely responsible for bringing a little credibility back to the country’s finances (and that he voted for himself when it was introduced). Not only would he abolish it, but he would actually pay back what Italians paid on it last year.

The announcement, despite coming from a man who has repeatedly failed to turn even the most promising political and economic circumstances into anything resembling the collective good, earned Mr. Berlusconi a considerable leap in the polls."

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