Shrewd politicians have also got their eye on the record number of declared non-voters (over 30%, a record in Italian politics), but the feeling is that as political activity gains momentum this number is bound to shrink.
The occult aim of a number leading political figures appears to be the creation of a hung Parliament, given the apparent impossibility of any one of the players to form a significant majority in both Houses. The President, Giorgio Napolitano, could thus move to renew the Monti experience, this time, however, giving the Government a more political character. As an alternative, a mixed Parliament could hold together just long enough to elect Monti as President of the Republic (Napolitano's mandate expires in April), and then proceed to new, even more uncertain elections.
The pattern is neither unexpected nor accidental and appeared with some clarity as early as the Spring of 2011, when the Italian Bishops' Conference, acting in harmony with the Holy See, withdrew its support from Berlusconi's party, thus openly encouraging the formation of a Catholic oriented political grouping in Parliament.
If Berlusconi should succeed in his come-back attempt -- which, at the moment, appears unlikely -- he could upset this delicate balance and provoke a return to the disastrous policies of the past.
In all probability, however, no matter which of the other contestants should obtain a majority in next February's elections, the real winner will be the Roman Catholic Church, and this, of course, will have a strong influence on Italy's internal politics, although it should not modify the country's basically pro-European stance.
(The author of this submission, Ambassador Carlo Ungaro, is a retired senior Italian Diplomatic Officer)
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