Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi?

12:00 pm - November 26th 2010

by Claude Carpentieri    

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Despite a massive majority, the Italian Prime Minister is days away from bowing out. His third election victory in April 2008 was saluted as “historic“: nobody in Italy’s democratic history had ever won such a huge majority.

Yet in two and a half years, all the Italian government managed to knock out was a number of controversial immunity bills (which critics slammed as “tailor-made” to protect the scandal-ridden PM from prosecution) and a series of anti-immigration measures dictated by Berlusconi’s openly xenophobic coalition partners the Northern League.

Otherwise, the Berlusconi ship started treading water pretty much from the off.

First, there was “his brand of bombastic politics”, as aptly branded by Sarah Vine in the Times. A style more akin to an Emperor with no boundaries and no sense of decorum produced the first casualty when his wife Veronica Lario announced she wanted a divorce.

Her words (“I cannot remain with a man who consorts with minors“) opened a can of worms, with more reports following that the 74-year-old PM was at the core of a network of call girls paid to be sent to his residence (his own lawyer famously described prostitutes as “goods” and Berlusconi as “the end user“).

And while increasing questions were raised over a PM whose behaviour left him exposed to blackmail, Italy found itself grappling with a number of unresolved issues. From cuts to education and street riots, organised crime and uncollected rubbish, as well as rotting heritage in Pompeii and growing poverty, Italy under Berlusconi appears in a total state of chaos.

The final straw came last month in the guise of a 17-year-old aspiring model known as ‘Ruby’.

When the girl – who first met the PM at one of his notorious “parties” – was arrested for theft in Milan, it emerged that Berlusconi pressurised police to free her. The PM admitted he helped Ruby, but lamely denied interfering with the justice system.

Last week’s news that Berlusconi’s loyal long-erm ally and House Speaker Gianfranco Fini took the unprecedented step to leave the government and take with him a number of ministers and MPs signalled the beginning of the end.

“Sometimes I think this is the government of pretending that all is well without taking into account society’s problems”, said a visibly fed-up Fini in a public speech. “There’s a sort of moral decadence, consequence of the progressive loss of decorum from those same public figures who are supposed to set the example”, added the right-wing leader, obviously aware that his words would trigger political earthquake.

Fini’s supporters declared that they will vote against a crucial vote of confidence on December 14. They may have enough MPs to bring Berlusconi down for good.

The irony is that the end of the empire is not being caused by any particular government policy backfiring or, even less so, by a centre-left opposition still in tatters. Berlusconi’s coalition is simply, literally, imploding.

What will happen next nobody knows. But, two weeks from now, the action of a few dozen MPs may end up in history books as the official end of Berlusconismo.

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About the author
Claude is a regular contributor, and blogs more regularly at: Hagley Road to Ladywood
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Reader comments

The Italian Left must have been in an absolutely horrific state for this buffoon to be in power for so long.

@Claude, wishful thinking. This is what the Left said back in 2004 just before Bush got re-elected.

the Berlusconi ship started treading water

Careful with those metaphors, Claude.

Hopefully. But he’s like a cockroach.

Alas, poor “Duce” Berlusconi. Who else will provide such a rich vein of comedy?

Well what do you expext when he owns the majority of the media and uses them to push his views.

His party is the tax avoidence party and if you are an Italian who would like the govt to turn a blind eye to your tax avoidence you vote for him.

To those not living in Italy he’s certainly had high comedic entertainment value but it appears the Italian people have finally tired of his antics. He should never have bothered becoming a politician and simply have bought or terrified them the way Murdoch does

8. James from Durham

Dave Cameron – He’s not such a bad guy. I mean look at what the Italians have to put up with. National humiliation on a daily basis.

Spero!! Che Stronzo!

I wonder if you remember Berlusconi’s disastrous presidency of the EU? He made gaff after gaff offending just about every nation and minority on earth.

It wasn’t reported in the papers or on Rai at all!!!! I lived in Italy at the time, and as Berlusconi owns almost all of the news outlets, Italians were led to believe that the presidency had been a glowing success.

Dave might have a spot of bother with Coulson and Murdoch might be an evil power lord, but at least Dave doesn’t actually own the media!!

Good that you mentioned that. People almost grew to accept the Berlusconi’s quasi-monopoly of the media as a default situation.

This is the main reason why the centre-left in Italy is in such a poor state. Not the only reason, but it certainly plays a huge part.

Recent data suggest that Berlusconi alone (that is: not his coalition, just HIM) has enjoyed more time talking on state television (and that’s just state television, let alone Berlusconi’s own TV channels) than all politicians from opposition parties put together.

I’m sure you will appreciate the uphill struggle any potential opposition to the current status quo will find.

Berlusconi is only a slightly caricatured version of what politics has become pretty much everywhere: media-driven on the outside and plutocratic at heart.

If he goes, then I hope Italy does something quickly to change the fact that, politically at least, they have been the laughing stock of the world for years.

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi?

  2. Political Animal

    RT @libcon Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi? <Questions to which the answer, sadly, is almost always 'no'.

  3. Kris

    RT @libcon: Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi?

  4. Alda Telles

    The end of Berlusconismo?

  5. REBELista

    Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi? | Liberal Conspiracy via @libcon

  6. REBELista

    RT @AldaTelles: The end of Berlusconismo?

  7. paulstpancras

    Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi? | Liberal Conspiracy

  8. Tim Fenton

    Will it be the end for "Duce" Berlusconi? hopefully yes it will

  9. Alan Lai

    RT @politic_animal: RT @libcon Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi? <Questions to which the answer, sadly, is al …

  10. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @libcon: Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi?

  11. Chris Patmore

    RT @libcon: Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi?

  12. Wendy Maddox

    RT @libcon: Is it the end for Silvio Berlusconi?

  13. Fr Paul Butler

    Is this the end for Berlusconi? As hhis right wing coalition self-destructs.

  14. john miller

    RT @RedRector: Is this the end for Berlusconi? As hhis right wing coalition self-destructs.

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