Not Just Any Old Charlatan
Silvio Berlusconi embodies Italy’s greatest weaknesses and its worst instincts.
Empathy and envy both play a role in why Italians have voted him into power three times in the last 17 years. He Blank I 51 confidence votes in Parliament since being reelected in 2008. He is the thirdrichest man in Italy, with an estimated worth of more than $6.2 billion. Never mind that his wealth and success grew out of an era marred by deepseated corruption. It’s the spoils of his dubious labor that they admire. He is known as “il cavaliere,” the knight. His lavish villas are enviable to everyday Italians who share cramped quarters with up to three generations of the same family. His public gaffes may cause embarrassment to the industrialists and political elite, but his workingclass charm and cringeworthy comments are cheered in bars. Headlines of his orgiastic fetes “ bunga bunga” make him a cult hero to a voting majority. After all, sex scandals at the age of 75 are a badge of honor in macho Italy. Blank II even owns a soccer team A. C. Milan and a winning one at that.
Berlusconi came to power at a time when the conservative political elite were fearful of a growing leftleaning movement they called the “red peril.” Berlusconi represented a clear anticommunist choice that has always played a role in his electoral success. For some, like Lupo Rattazzi, a Harvardeducated airline entrepreneur who also happens to be a descendent of Italy’s seigniorial Agnelli family, Berlusconi played the communist card to his advantage time and again. “A majority of Italians do not want to be run by the heirs of the former Communist Party, let alone by the current ragtag army of splintered leftwing groups,” Rattazzi told Newsweek about Berlusconi’s appeal. “Believe me, it’s not so much about the bimbos and tax dodging.” Still, the harm to Italy’s reputation internationally is something that will take years to repair. “Personally I will miss nothing of him, in particular his absolutely atrocious jokes and the brutte figure abroad to which he was continuing to expose this great country. He was destroying the great brand that Italy is and he cannot be forgiven for that,” Rattazzi says. “In terms of his willingness to really attack the structural problems of Italy which require imposing serious sacrifices, he was incapable of doing so because he likes to be known as a ‘seducer’ and as such, he simply doesn’t like to deliver bad news to anyone.”
(From: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/11 /13/berlusconiembodiesitalysgreatestweaknessesworstinstincts. html)
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