Italy voted. Almost all of Italy’s 44 milion eligible voters voted. 83%. And they pored to the polls to announce their overwhelming preference for…both candidates.

69 year old incumbent Silvio Berluscioni’s centre right coalition won about 50% of the votes.

66 year old Romano Prodi’s centre-left coalition took the other 50%.

What a clusterfuck.

Romano Prodi has provisionally claimed victory in both the House and The Senate. Based on his slim majority he has control of both House and Senate with many more seats (particularly in the more powerful Senate) than his rival. Berlusconi has alternately offered a unilateral coalition where everybody can govern together as one big happy centre-left-right coalition with 100% of the votes. Or threatened to declare the results invalid.

The irony is Berlusconi rammed through legislation in the last couple of months to give whomever has the slimmest of majorities a mandate. He did this, of course, because he liked the job of Prime Minister and thought this would be the one way he could hold onto it. He has been, as they used to say, hoisted by his own petard. Prodi and co. have accused Berlusconi of “falsifying reality” and being a big crybaby loser.

Now comes the difficult part. Even if Prodi gets to hold on to his very slim majority and keep his coalition together he is inheriting a country that is deeply deeply fucked. Not only does Italy have an economy with zero growth, huge public program expenses, and an aging population, they are also mired in tradition. They do not take kindly to change, especially if that change involves lifestyle sacrifice and, heaven forbid, innovation. Prodi, if he wants to save Italy from ever increased fuckedness will need to make some unpopular decisions. These could prove unpopular. And unpopularity is anathema to the politician.

At any rate, nobody will really do anything for the next little while as the clusterfuck of the election is sorted out. A whole lot of back and forth is to be expected, with Berlusconi using his stranglehold on Italian media to paint himself in a sympathetic light, and portray Prodi as the man who wants to take wealth out of the pockets of ordinary Italians. And maybe even call him a cheater. As Italy tries to decide who won, Italians will be the real losers. The incompetent government they barely voted out cripples any real progress that can be made.

Allegations of election tampering may be made. But how could that be possible? I mean they used American election technology. Oh wait. That America? Democracy’s most spectacular car crash exported their election technology? Who would buy that shit? Yup it’s true: Berlusconi did. Hoping the American vote-rigging system could provide him a very slim majority that would allow him to govern (thanks to the legislation he recently forced through). Only something went wrong. With the cheating.

Forgive me for not feeling sorry for anyone but the Italian people and the expats who have to live here.