George Bush's second closest comrade in the neoconservative "coalition of the willing" occupiers of Iraq has been swept from power. And that means that Italy will soon withdraw its troops from the coalition and Iraq.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who after British Prime Minister Tony Blair was the strongest supporter of Bush's policies in Europe, and perhaps the world, was swept from office in voting that ended Monday. Berlusconi will be replaced by Romano Prodi, whose center-left Olive coalition promised in its manifesto to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq.
Exit polls for the state broadcaster RAI gave Prodi's coalition of liberals, socialists and communists a majority in both houses of parliament.
Opposition to the war was not the only factor in the defeat of Berlusconi, whose five-year tenure as prime minister was characterized by corruption and totalitarian tactics, and whose reelection campaign degenerated into crude bluster and obscenity. But the prime minister's alliance with Bush, whose approval ratings are almost as low in Italy as in the U.S., certainly played a role.
Prodi's says the withdrawal of Italian troops will be completed "in the technical time necessary," following consultation with Iraqi authorities. That will go over well with the Italians who marched in the millions against Berlusconi's decision to send his country's troops to fight George Bush's war.
John Nichols, The Nation's Washington correspondent, has covered progressive politics and activism in the United States and abroad for more than a decade. He is currently the editor of the editorial page of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. Nichols is the author of two books: It's the Media, Stupid and Jews for Buchanan.
© 2006 The Nation