What Will Happen to Italy After its #1 Playboy has Left the Mansion?

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Berlusconi said yes to a vote of confidence towards the government of Italian PM Enrico Letta. After days of rumours and heavy statements where the backbencher and former PM Silvio Berlusconi repeatedly accused the Democratic Party of taking part in a plot to exclude him from the political scenario, he finally gave in. On Tuesday, Berlusconi granted the support of his Party to the government in which, currently, five ministers of his party sit.

His speech came as a shock as he asked his ministers to resign on 28th of September, marking the beginning of this political crisis. Letta was very disappointed by what he defined as a “reckless action”. The Prime Minister himself was promoting the image of Italy abroad and this crisis was indeed a bad advertisement for the country since Letta’s awareness campaign overseas was based on the reliability of Italy and the mature political situation despite the usual discussions.

All of this was proven wrong the day after his return to Italy. Berlusconi was over the edge and the only language he could speak was made of one word: elections.

Since his trial by the Italian Supreme Court for tax fraud at the very beginning of last August, Berlusconi has not hidden his bitterness and rage.  The Secretary of the Democratic Party, Mr. Guglielmo Epifani celebrated his sentence before the ruling of the Court was out.  The judge himself made inappropriate remarks on Mr. Berlusconi’s case, nurturing what Berlusconi sees as a cancer: the corruption and excessive power of the Judiciary and the clumsiness of the Democratic Party.

Berlusconi’s problems increased last month as he was judged in the Senate for a law that was also voted for by his Party (the Severino Law) that disposes a gathering within the Senate itself called to judge the relinquishment of Mr. Berlusconi. Mr. Berlusconi claims the law is unconstitutional and that cannot punish a crime committed before the law came into force. Because of these assumptions he filed a formal complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. He made his disappointment evident by directly insulting Prime Minister Letta and labelling him as “unreliable”, while calling President Giorgio Napolitano a “communist” and a “liar”.

Being these the facts, last weekend’s actions don’t exactly come as a surprise, nevertheless, Berlusconi’s action risked dividing his Party. His ministers resigned for their loyalty to him because they understood his situation, but in the other hand, they are very aware of just how much the country needs a government and cannot afford other elections.

Twenty-six of the ministers who resigned declared themselves to be ready to create an autonomous group to support the Letta Government, for Italy’s sake. After a morning of discussions, Mr. Berlusconi decided to surprise everyone by saying yes to a vote of confidence to the Letta government on the behalf of his Party.

Italy cannot afford new elections. The economy is not doing well at all. Italian policy-makers should continue pursuing constitutional and structural reforms. A good part of the country lacks infrastructures and the corruption continues to underpin the economy.

While most of Europe is slowly recovering from the crisis and Germany and France are leading this race to stability, Italy is still paying for the foolishness of its politicians. Since the foundation of the Italian Republic, there have been 62 governments in 65 years, meaning that hey remain in power for an average of eleven months.

This data is enough to understand the importance of structural reforms. The labour market is stiff, too many contracts, and wealth distribution is simply unequal. All critical points were probably listed one time too many so I will not continue further. There is still a government, a shutdown was avoided, and there is still room to see a different and a happier scenario in the future- if the situation stays on this track, of course.

Ian Ssali.

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