Italian politics took a dark turn when March elections overthrew the country’s scandal-ridden establishment but shifted power to the right-wing Alliance for Freedom coalition.
The main party, Forza Italia, is led by media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi. The other coalition parties agree only on closing the borders to dark-skinned immigrants. While the neo-fascist National Alliance demands a strong central government, Lega Nord separatists want to divide Italy into autonomous mini-states, relieving the prosperous north of responsibility for the poor, Mafia-plagued south.
The division may have occurred already: The elections effectively split the world’s fifth leading industrial power into three parts–the center of the country mostly with the left; the south mixed, with neo-fascists rising; and the north belonging to Lega Nord voters who mistrust conventional politics.