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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 12 febbraio 2013 alle ore 06:40.

Papa Benedetto XVI (Epa)Papa Benedetto XVI (Epa)

The abdication of Pope Benedict XVI, right in the middle of the election campaign, brings to the fore the issue of the Catholic vote in Italian politics. At the time of the Christian Democrats (DC), the situation was simple: the party had a close relationship with the Church and was there to interpret the Vatican's priorities.

The Catholic voter knew who to vote for. With the end of the DC everything changed: the "party of the Church" no longer exists. Many parties now seek to take on that role.
Close to achieving that is Mario Monti. When the Professor stepped into politics he publically received praise from the Vatican. The Church's official newspaper "L'Osservatore Romano" wrote that he launched a «call to re-establish the highest and most noble meaning of politics». For the Church, these were unusually explicit words. Perhaps too explicit for some, as Vatican officials soon after played things down. Maybe they feared a future alliance between the Professor and the center-left and the consequences on ethical issues such as gay marriage and biological will. Nevertheless the Vatican certainly appreciated Monti's handling of delicate matters: during his government, the Professor modified exemptions to the property tax that gave the Church an advantage against EU rules. Monti managed to convince Brussels not to seek re-payment of this "illegal" aid. Within Monti's group there is Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Comunità di Sant'Egidio. In addition, Monti's ally, UDC of Pier Ferdinando Casini, is a small post-Christian Democrat party which kept the "cross on a shield", the historic logo of the Christian Democrats which still appeals to nostalgic followers.

Opposite to this is the position the Church took against the return of Silvio Berlusconi as leader of the PDL. The relationship with the Cavaliere during the years of his government was good (for measures taken in areas close to the Church such as the funding of private schools). The scandals that then impacted on his personal life embarrassed the Church. Berlusconi, however, still thinks that he has the support of Catholics: «We are proud of what we did in the past government concerning measures close to the Church – he said – that's why I believe Catholic voters will vote PDL».
A recent survey (published in the weekly "Famiglia Cristiana") suggests that is not quite how things are. Practicing Catholics seem to prefer the PD which currently has 31.5% of the vote, while PDL stands at 27.5%. Monti is also "liked": the Professor is expected to pick up about 25% of Catholic votes, proportionately more compared to the rest of the electorate, which is estimated to be around 15%.

With regard to the PD this data is not surprising. The Democratic Party, in fact, is the coming together of the Democratici di Sinistra (heirs of the Communist Party) and Margherita (one of the parties that came out of the DC break-up). Within the PD there are important members of the Christian Democratic tradition, such as Rosy Bindi, with strong links with the Catholic world. This "double soul" is often the cause of disputes within the party.
(Traduzione di James Tierney)

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