Sunday, 4 August 2013

Berlusconi needless drama

Finally after 33 trials in 22 years Sylvio Berlusconi the ex-Prime Minister of Italy ( 9 years in office) has been found guilty and sentenced to jail.

Berlusconi is 76 years old a multi-millionaire and belongs to that generation in Italy who grew up after the war in an Italy that was seriously divided between the Fascists, the Communists and the Christian Democrats. Despite his conviction on fraud his media company Mediaset, he still has a hardline 30% of supporters who will vote for him no matter what. He is the only top politician on the Right able to rally the troops and deliver a political punch. For outsiders this is very difficult to understand, his appeal comes from various corners in the political culture of Italy. Berlusconi appeals to the small business owners who are not keen on paying taxes, he is seen as the guy who is smart enough to always get around the law and not get caught, the word in Italian for this is Furbo meaning wily, cunning, a quality much admired in Italian Culture amongst a certain age group. He does not hesitate to wrap himself in the flag or say all the things which will appeal to the average person, saying out loud what everyone is thinking silently even when it is crude.

He has been at war with the Judiciary in Italy for many years, he denounces Judges he sees as being activists, he used his time in Office to have laws voted which would shield him from prosecution but at the same time pervert Justice. He has his supporters who believe he is right and out to protect the little guy. Berlusconi uses the word Liberty at will, to him it means being able to do whatever and ignoring laws which are inconvenient. In the current economic crisis in Italy which developed during his time in Office when he could have intervened and taken action, he now claims it is all the fault of Chancellor Merkel of Germany.  Many believe him, Merkel is the enemy, Italy would do well if it was not for Germany. Simplistic approach but it works for Berlusconi supporters.

Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta

The current Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta declared that the coalition government he heads now is strong and he does not believe that if Berlusconi is forbidden next week by the Courts to hold public office, that the government would fall. Though this is exactly what Berlusconi is saying, the threat is that if he does not get a Pardon from the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, his party Popolo della Liberta (PdL) will walk out. Napolitano who never disguised the fact that he does not like Berlusconi is not likely to grant the requested Pardon. Though a very real political crisis has developed with no one on the Political Right being able to pick up after Berlusconi.

President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano

Berlusconi will not go to jail because of his age, by law in Italy a person over 75 years of age does not go to jail, but also because he remains the Cavaliere, an honorific title which his supporters bestowed on him. It would be unseemly in Italy for an ex-Prime Minister to go to jail, it is simply not done. Again difficult concept for outsiders to understand. He is likely to spend his time assigned to residence in his home in Rome, Palazzo Grazioli next to the Piazza Venezia in the heart of the Città. He will play up the victim for the Press and he may do community work and be sure that he will play it up for all that is worth. Berlusconi the political actor to the end as he demonstrated on Sunday 4 August when is supporters came to the Palazzo and he presented himself wearing a mask of grief and stating that he is suffering but will go on.

Palazzo Grazioli in the City, residence of Sylvio Berlusconi, near Piazza Venezia, Rome.

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