Tell me you like me. Or, bugger off.
Today is the 30th anniversary of the bombings at Bologna train station, one of the bloodiest (probably the bloodiest) terrorist attacks Italy suffered during the so-called anni di piombo (“years of lead”), in the 70s and early 80s. Eighty-five people died as a result of the explosion. Nowadays, the lancets of the station clock are still indicating 10.25 am, the time the bomb went off.
Each year, on the 2nd of August, relatives of the victims, along with common citizens, meet in front of the station, to commemorate the event and to ask for the truth about those responsible for the death of all those innocents. As of today, two neo-fascists have been condemned as material executors of the attack, but nothing has been said as to whom they acted for. The inquiry into the responsibilities of the Bologna bombings has led to State’s representatives and the so called “strategy of tension”, yet very little effort has been made to date, to find the instigators.
Today’s celebration is the first in which no member of the Government is present. Ministers used to take part in the 2nd of August commemoration, as a sign of the State’s support for the victims’ plea for justice. However, and particularly in the last few years, Ministers present at the ceremony have been also object of contestation from some groups of citizens, in relation to the trentennial delay in ascertaining the truth behind the bombing.
This year, then, no one from the Government is attending the ceremony. The reason for this is explained by Ignazio La Russa, Italy’s Minister of Defence. This is La Russa:
Ignazio explained yesterday: “In the past years, you always booed the Ministers who came to the ceremony. Thus, it’s not worth it for the Government to send its representatives”. His view was echoed by Manes Bernardini, from the Northern League: “This year, Bologna will pay for the contestations of the previous years”. Other members of the Government agreed with these statements.
So, here is today’s lesson about democracy in Italy. The Government is there to be praised. If citizens contest the Ministers, if they made them accountable for their (in)action, then the Government will simply avoid showing up. Or, if it is the citizens who showed up to ask question, the Government will kick them out
(The Minister of Defence, La Russa, grabs a freelance journalist, Rocco Carlomagno, who was annoyingly contesting the PM Berlusconi during a press conference, and throws him out of the room).