And they answered No
The results that really mattered were Emilia Romagna, Toscana, Umbria and Marche. It is in these four regions, the regioni rosse, the red regions, that the Democratic Party must bring out the vote in any general election; it is here that the Democratic Party has its electoral roots and its electoral force. As Sole 24 Ore notes this is the political core , the more general interest, of the last week's Democratic primaries. For at a general election the southern end of Italy will be voting for other parties entirely and in the North there are powerful alternatives to the Partito Democratico.
It is no surprise, really, that the old Left and its organisation defeated us. What sort of communist worth his salt can't deliver an election? Elections were delivered from 1917 till 1992 in the heartlands of democratic centralism, and from 1946 till 1989 in the conquered territories of realised socialism, when the people gave up voting and tore down the Wall with their bare hands. But in a general election, how can a Bersani-led Party win? Why ever should it, mired in its old, corrupting, dead form. Indeed the rules of the game for the general election haven't even been settled yet and, until they are, it's almost impossible to work out what government Italy will have in the springtime of 2013, but the centre and Left is now in as much disarray as the centre and Right.
The voters who gave Renzi Tuscany and, at the first round, even Umbria and the Marche and took almost half the Party vote in the regioni rosse will not have their ideas of a capitalist, liberal, caring, small state changed by the charge of the communist heavy brigades. Nor will they simply abstain: Italian voters do not abstain, Italian voters vote - and with a clear idea of their own interests well to the fore. Berlusconi knows this better than any other politician. He is circling the anti communist voters of the PD in his beastly way, working out what needs to be done to remove their principled stand against his last administration. Bersani can do little to regain them because his victory was delivered by those we want removed from office and from influence.
Does all this matter in the wider world? Probably yes. In the West we have not had the cathartic experience of the East that removed utopian pretensions of socialism, having been fortunate enough not to live under its fully realised version. We still need our velvet revolutions (let's hope they are velvet and not blood-stained) and our Transition though, and if the Coalition efforts in the United Kingdom are any kind of exemplar we are going to need trench warfare.