Is Berlusconi Good For The Bel Paese?

Berlusconi imitating the pope

‘This sort of sadness has always prevailed among intelligent Italians, but most of them, to evade suicide or madness, have taken to every known means of escape…a passion for women, for food…above all, for fine sounding words’.Ignazio Silone from the Dark Heart of Italy.

Berlusconi has been Italy’s (bel paese; beautiful country) Prime Minister for seven out of the last ten years.

I have travelled to Italy many times over the past two decades; I love the people, the country, and would have loved to have lived there for a couple of years if I had been given the opportunity.  It goes without saying that their literature, poets and authors have always grabbed my undivided attention.  But the natives I spoke to say it is a difficult and harsh country to live in if you are not wealthy and don’t have powerful connections.  From what I have read, it has always been this way.

Berlusconi and his fellow politicians are about to pass new laws curtailing the Italian press from reporting sensitive issues like what the men in government, and in other institutions such as banking,  get up to in their private lives. Berlusconi tells ‘his people’ that the new rules are necessary to protect citizens’ privacy. “In Italy, we are all spied upon,” he said recently in the law’s defense.  The press are on strike.

The prime minister speaks from experience. Last year, wiretap transcripts were published revealing that he was hosting select parties where young women, including call girls, were the star attraction. Another intercept revealed how he had asked a manager of public television “about girls,” to help “raise the boss’s morale.” The incidents were reported to have led to his divorce from his second wife because she asked him to apologise to her for his behaviour,  and put him at odds with the Catholic Church.  He informed  the press that his wife had no right to insult him in public.

The following piece taken from an article by Alessandro Speciale — Special to GlobalPost Published: June 29, 2010 06:49 ET in European article:

On July 29, Berlusconi ousted Fini — the charismatic, current speaker of the Lower Chamber of the Italian parliament — from his People of Freedom party, accusing the party co-founder of being “totally incompatible” with its principles. He also contended that Fini was waging a shadow “political opposition” within his own party, trying to administer a “slow death” to it.

He had reason to be worried: 33 lawmakers from the lower house of parliament and 10 from the Senate abandoned the People of Freedom upon Fini’s departure, leaving Berlusconi five votes short of a majority in the lower house and with a wafer-thin majority of two votes in the upper house.Fini has pledged support for Berlusconi on an ad hoc basis, vowing to fight fiercely against proposals that are “unfair or damaging to the wider interest.”

Sounds similar to the political stalemate here in Australia…

See Posts… Berlusconi Lives For Another Day

Shame On You Mr Berlusconi!

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