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Exit Berlusconi

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At last Berlusconi has said he’ll step down. It should be a good day for Italian democracy. Except that – assuming he really does go – Italy’s longest serving postwar prime minister will have been finally driven from office not for corruption, croneyism, tax evasion or colluding with the mafia; not for the conflict of interests between his media empire and his political position; not for having presided over years of economic stagnation, rising unemployment and crumbling public services, and otherwise generally enriching himself at (almost) everyone else’s expense; not for his outspoken xenophobia, sexism and homophobia; and not even for having sex with underage prostitutes; but because the EU, the IMF and the bond markets think he can’t be trusted to push through the austerity regime they want Italy to enforce, which will almost certainly make everything even worse.

Comments on “Exit Berlusconi”

  1. Geoff Roberts says:

    It couldn’t have happened anywhere else, could it? He’ll probably go back to crooning on cruise ships, or start his own personality show on one of his TV channels. It’s the banks and the rating agencies that decided it, though, probably with some pressure from the IMF, as you say, but when Germany is paying 1.5% for its loans and Italy is up around 7%, that’s where the pressure was applied. Good luck to the Italians, Berlusconi did more damage to Italy than the Huns, the Germans, the catholic church and the Mafia combined.

  2. Phil Edwards says:

    The disconnect isn’t as absolute as that. This isn’t a Gough Whitlam situation: the reason why Berlusconi’s (probably) going is that he’s weak – no government led by him is capable of getting anything done any more. And the reason that he’s weak is that he’s lost (or alienated) one ally after another and lost (or squandered) public support, to the point where even members of his own party are deserting him. The EU are pushing over a rotten tree – and it would have been so much better if it had been the Italian people – but the rot is Berlusconi’s own doing.

  3. Tatty_Divine says:

    Well he will spend what time he has left in office protecting his interests. Pretty much as he has all of the days he has spent in office. Many Italians I know coped by pretending he didn’t exists. So deep was their shame. And others couldn’t be more proud.

    His years in office will leave Italy with a price to pay. Un uomo piccolo fa una lunga ombra as they say.

  4. Geoff Roberts says:

    So, he’s gone, but he is threatening to come back, so this may not be the end of the story after all. I still can’t help feeling that the left ought to have been more active (general strikes, spontaneous stoppages etc.) than they have been. I read yesterday that the unions represent the pensioners more or less but where are the Brigate Rossi when you need them?

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