Time for a New Face in Italian Politics

Will Berlusconi continue to look so smug throughout 2011?

Looking at the current wave of unrest in the Middle East, I wonder why such democratic demonstrations do not take place in Italy, my beautiful country, which has been not governed but owned during the last seventeen years, by one of the richest businessmen worldwide, namely Silvio Berlusconi. In fact, a rising unemployment, as well as prices, and a lack of political reforms, are symptoms of the fact that Italy needs immediate change. Regarding Berlusconi’s power, it has been pointed out by most Italians that Berlusconi is still in office because there is no left wing in Italy, proposing a credible alternative to his sexual paradise displayed on the pages of the most influential media. That is why I would like to introduce some considerations and address a couple of issues concerning Italian politics.

To begin with, the first reason why Berlusconi still enjoys a great consent amongst Italians is that politics is unfortunately too often associated with private life and scandals. I personally agree that dating an underage girl is certainly a thing Mr Berlusconi should not be proud of, given that it is an offence (to this respect, the judges are investigating over such allegations). Hence most Italian newspapers publish entire reports everyday about how many girls the Italian Prime Minister has met during the last years. Others ask about the lady Berlusconi claimed he is in a stable relationship with, or even discuss Berlusconi’s bizarre sexual games, such as the sadly known “Bunga Bunga” (apparently, orgies). As you can clearly notice, political attacks are based on junk information and private scandals, rather than political concerns and public initiative asking him to quit.

However, notwithstanding some voyeuristic interests, some Italians – and Europeans – still seem to retain what is important is politics and policy-making. In particular, Berlusconi has faced the prospect of resigning from his government because of an extremely risky and controversial confidence vote, which was won by just a few votes and his project for immunity was partially rejected by the Constitutional Court. In the meantime, Italy’s public debt is about to reach 2,000 billion euros, unemployment is rising and most young people have no perspectives on their future, so leave (as you can see) to other countries. But no politician in the Left seems willing to focus on such matters, given that Berlusconi’s sexual activity is to them categorically more important than political challenges and people’s needs.

Another issue, perhaps more important, is that if there is no left wing suggesting an option, equally a proper right wing does not exist on the Italian political stage. Berlusconi’s party and ideology consist of hypocritical agreements with the Catholic Church, ambitious showgirls, former communists, socialists and ex-Christian Democrats. Frankly, this does not appear to be a right-wing party. A modern ideology of centre-right, mixing conservative principles and liberal innovations, is now promoted by Gianfranco Fini, the current president of the House, as well as former ally of Berlusconi, who was dismissed – by a semi-Stalinesque decision of exclusion from the same party – because he advocated the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and adopting the Constitution as the cornerstone of a modern endeavour. Certainly these views clash with the ideas of a tycoon, such as Berlusconi, who continuously seeks to alter the Constitution according to his needs, to escape from his several trials.

It is evident that Italian politics has declined to a level where moral integrity and political idealism are no more than beautiful words. Berlusconi, a master of communication and the father of conflicting interests, is taking advantage of the public attention his scandals are getting, thus some of his ministers are drafting the next law ad personam to defend him from his trials. No one seems to understand that an immediate reaction is needed by new generations and a youthful initiative is strongly required. Steps should be taken not on rumours and scandals, but on actual concerns affecting most Italians, because the time has come to make a big change in Italy. The time has come to fill the political vacuum, which let Silvio Berlusconi govern Italy unsuccessfully for the last fifteen years. To sum up, if it is true that the left failed in addressing the modern political challenges, on the other side of the spectrum a mature, reliable, consistent right is still missing.

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