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A Manifesto from Italy

Giovanni Bachelet Paolo SylosLabini Elio Veltri Enzo Marzo
29 May 2002

A call to the world from Italy

Today, the leaders of NATO and Russia are meeting to initiate a historic agreement. We hope that it will usher in a period of peace and co-operation.

But the host of this occasion is Silvio Berlusconi, a man who is attempting to put himself beyond the reach of law, to undermine the independence of the judiciary and to monopolise and control the modern media that itself shapes public opinion.

He is using the occasion to legitimise his rule. The gathering is being staged in a vast eleven million dollar construction outside Rome built especially for the occasion. The lavish setting is not just designed to celebrate the importance of the agreement, but to aggrandise Berlusconi. Indeed, he personally ordered and approved the designs – including such details as instructing the lighting engineers to ensure each head of state is fully illuminated for the gaze of the world.

We call on the citizens of every country whose highest representatives are under Berlusconi’s spotlight to protest against any endorsement of his regime.

For what is happening in Italy is not only an Italian affair. Its example and influence needs to be opposed everywhere. We have published a manifesto of ‘Opposizione Civile’. Please send us your signature of support, wherever you are.

In the early 1920s Mussolini pioneered Fascism in Italy. It too was celebrated by what seemed to be ludicrous constructions and public spectacles. It too was indulged and supported by complacent governments elsewhere.

The defence of democracy is indivisible. To permit its erosion in Italy is to accept its loss everywhere. Join us to say ‘No’ to Silvio Berlusconi.

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Opposizione Civile

Civil society is mobilising and initiatives must be co-ordinated. The reasons for mobilisation are clear.

A concentration of economic and media power, without precedent in the civilised world, poses a real threat to democracy and freedom in Italy. The control of information and advertising allows manipulation of the very means that create political consensus.

Italy’s present governing group is pursued by a past from which it is unable to escape. It is searching for its own impunity by attacking the magistrature and the magistrature’s autonomy, and in doing so has sparked off dangerous conflicts within the organs of the state.

The situation is clear to all. The abolition of false accounting, the law on evidence obtained abroad, the amnesty on repatriation of capital and opposition to European criminal justice serve to defend personal interests and privileges, to the detriment of social rights and the economic expectations that have been demagogically created by the government.

Italy’s relations with Europe, a firm democratic anchor, are placed in danger by the government’s policy and by the vulgar attacks of some government members. The conflict of interest that entangles the prime minister and some ministers violates the fundamental principles of a liberal democracy.

Citizens of the right, the centre and the left who care for these principles must mobilise and use all the means that liberal democracy offers to oppose the abuses that are happening. Differences must be overcome and a programme agreed with a clear objective as a priority: the defence of the rule of law, and uncompromising opposition to the government on this.

Defence of democracy concerns everyone. All citizens and associations should make a full commitment to the increasing number of initiatives that offer civil opposition to the Berlusconi government.

Since it was published in the newspaper La Repubblica, this manifesto has gathered sixty thousand signatures.

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