"Mr. Berlusconi embodies some of the best, and many of the worst, features of the Italian character. He has a few of our virtues and all of our vices in spades. He is intuitive, easygoing and often very funny. He knows his soccer, enjoys good food and appreciates romantic songs after dinner. He loves lavish homes, hates rules, tells jokes and uses the odd swear word. He knows how to make money and has no compunction about cutting corners in the process. He cares about his friends (as long as they do what he says), talks fondly about his late mamma and adores his kids. In fact, he loves families [...]
This website is in its fifth year, and I cannot count how many times I have wondered aloud in its pages if Italian prostitute associate Silvio Berlusconi's political career has reached its end. (I mean, I could count, but you have no idea how depressing it is to go back through the archives.) So even though there has been a good deal of turmoil in Italy's already chaotic political scene of late, I remained skeptical that it would in any way draw the curtain on the Berlusconi era. Still, it is hard not to perk up to [...]
What's shakin', Italy? "Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, has been sentenced to a year in prison over the publication of leaked transcripts from a police wiretap in a newspaper he owns." And? "The verdict carries no impact on Mr Berlusconi's eligibility to participate in a new government." Also? "Italian sentencing guidelines indicate that people aged over 75 and with sentences of less than two years do not have to actually go to prison. Mr Berlusconi is 76." Okay, carry on.
Is it too early to write Silvio Berlusconi's political obituary? I am not a superstitious person, but suggesting that "his final gamble has failed" seems like a bad idea, in a "man plans, God laughs" kind of way. In any event, there'll be plenty of opportunity to figure it all out after Italy votes this weekend. If you've got time, read this New Yorker article from 2008 about Beppe Grillo, whose 5-Star movement may both deny Berlusconi the ability to screw the country while also screwing the country in its own right.
"The coming election campaign will be, above all, a test of the maturity and realism of Italian voters. One could feel more confident if they had not on three occasions chosen Mr Berlusconi as their leader."
Mario Monti, the Prime Minister of Italy, spent New Years Eve at home with "his wife, their son, daughter and respective partners, Mrs Monti's sister with her husband and four children aged between one and six." His wife served dinner. God, Italy, it's like I don't even know you anymore.
"Silvio Berlusconi caused outrage in Italy's Jewish community on Wednesday after the former prime minister said he and his children felt persecuted like Jews in Nazi Germany because of hounding by leftist magistrates."
"Silvio Berlusconi has said he invited escort girls to his parties 'to boost his morale.' In a candid exchange with magistrate Pasquale Drago in May, details of which were reported by Italy’s newspapers Sunday, Mr. Berlusconi said he had asked his butler to place the women that businessman Giampaolo Tarantini brought to his dinners across the table from him, 'to lift up my morale.' He said that if he had genuinely wanted to invite prostitutes, there were plenty in Rome already."
"Italy's former PM Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of having sex with an underage prostitute, and abusing the power of his office. He has been sentenced to seven years in jail and banned from public office, pending the outcome of an appeal." But of course, "Mr. Berlusconi has the right to appeal the sentence twice, which could take years to decide. Even if the conviction is upheld, he is unlikely to go to jail because Italian law allows house arrest for those over the age of 70."
Guy Whose Job Is Putting On Face Paint And Frightening Children Resents Being Compared To Scary Old Man
"The head of Germany's most prominent circus has criticised Social Democratic candidate Peer Steinbrueck for comparing the clown profession to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi…. 'Being a clown is an honorable, very difficult, sensitive and artistic occupation,' he said. 'How can you compare that with bunga-bunga?'"
"An Italian woman has demanded an apology from Silvio Berlusconi after he crudely joked with her about sex, days before a national election. The former Prime Minister asked the woman at a corporate event how many times she enjoyed sex and if he could look at her bottom…. 'Do you come?…only once?…how many times do you come?…with what sort of time intervals?,' he asked her with a smirk on his face." —Will Silvio Berlusconi make one final comeback? Probably not. For now, at least. But if he does, remember that George W. Bush was president of the United [...]
Silvio Berlusconi's ongoing quest to discover just how far Italians will take a joke proceeds apace.
"Berlusconi's political agenda is very clear: he has been reported as saying that his party will 'unplug Monti's government life support whenever necessary'. And this is likely to happen as soon as his name rises in the polls again. There couldn't be a clearer indication of Berlusconi's plans: in the expectation that Italians will quickly forget the incompetence he displayed while in power, Berlusconi hopes to lead his party to success at the next general election in 2013. Those who had hoped that Berlusconi would finally withdraw from politics to write his biography will be sorely disappointed."
"Silvio Berlusconi lived in chaos, taken advantage of by hangers-on and vastly overpaid for groceries, his girlfriend said in the latest interview about her relationship with the politician 49 years her senior."
"The success of Berlusconi is thus not a blip or an anomaly, but goes to the heart of Italian culture, and reveals the widespread disbelief in Italy that politics could ever be cleaned up or made remotely fair. So Berlusconi’s insistence that the criminal charges against him are merely trumped up by his enemies finds fertile territory; even those who oppose him are willing to assume that an element of persecution is involved, as if what mattered were not his guilt but the spirit in which the investigation is carried out, since every politician is presumed guilty one way or another and it’s common credence that no action on any [...]
"Silvio Berlusconi’s private disco featured women dressed not just as sexy nuns and nurses but also as President Barack Obama and a prominent Milan prosecutor the former Italian premier has accused of persecuting him."
How messed up is Italy after its most recent election? How about, "The results have created the remarkable possibility that Italy could find itself next week without a government or a pope." Or, "Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani and resurgent ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi may be seeking to avoid a ballot that would favor populist Beppe Grillo, whose movement was the top vote-getter in its first national contest…. Recession- scarred voters repudiated budget rigor and made Grillo, a former comedian, a political force. In the four-way race, Bersani, the pre-election favorite, won the lower house by less than a half a point. Berlusconi, [...]
As a Catholic, I'm not buying this. Popes don't just quit because they're tired. What's going on here??
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 11, 2013
When the most trusted man in America says something like "What's going on here?", then something is most certainly going on here. Popes, after all, do not "quit" like some deluded star of a network situation comedy. Popes "quit" in the way the mythological first pope, Saint Peter, gave up the duties of his office: by upside-down crucifixion. Or, more generally, death. As Joseph Ratzinger is not technically dead, he is the pope until death, unless he believes he is mightier than God [...]
Can Italy change? Tim Parks addresses the question here. Meanwhile, guess who this passage is describing: "When he is perorating about the inadequacies of the Italian constitution, he leans back in his yellow silk sofa, right ankle on his left knee, and runs his hand through his hair, like an emperor surveying his slaves. But when he has a meatier point to make, a defense of his sex life, for example, he leans forward and thrusts his hands up and down between his legs as if potting a large plant."