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Silvio Berlusconi and the Italian Election


John Simkin
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Interesting article in the Guardian today about Silvio Berlusconi.

Tristram Hunt

Monday February 6, 2006

The Guardian

In typically vulgar style, Silvio Berlusconi committed himself last week to sexual abstinence until the Italian general election on April 9. Unfortunately, Mrs Berlusconi's well-earned break promises to come at the expense of European politics. For a determined Berlusconi could well win himself another term in office.

Some 15 months ago the global progressive community headed to America in a forlorn attempt to unseat President Bush. From Europe, Canada and Asia thousands of angry activists joined the Democrat campaign. Even the Guardian got in on the act by targeting the voters of Clark County, Ohio. Now, with greater effort, the same campaigning enthusiasm needs to be directed towards Italy - as with the US elections, as much for our sakes as for theirs.

In the run-up to the 2001 Italian poll, the Economist listed a litany of charges Berlusconi was under investigation for. Famously, the normally reserved magazine concluded he was "not fit to lead the government of any country, least of all one of the world's richest democracies". Although Berlusconi responded with a libel claim, which is so far unresolved, his record in office has only served to confirm their verdict.

Above all there has been the systematic abuse of the legislature for his own ends. Deploying his substantial majority in parliament, in 2003 he altered the law to give high-ranking state officials (such as the prime minister) legal exemptions. More recently, he has further attempted to cow prosecuting authorities with an attack on judicial independence. The usually pliant President Ciampi called the legislation "blatantly unconstitutional".

Berlusconi's serial misuse of the political system ranges from the parochial to the constitutional. He overhauled the planning system to cover up the environmental damage his gargantuan villa had inflicted on the Sardinian coastline. And six months before the April poll he introduced a wide-ranging series of electoral reforms. These would have the effect of denying the opposition an outright victory as well as returning Italy to the worst years of PR instability.

The rest of the article can be found here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1702938,00.html

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