Silvio Berlusconi’s success: In heaven or hell

July 17th, 2009

Italy’s prime minister once again proves to be a great survivor

The Economist

DEPENDING on your view of his final destination, Silvio Berlusconi has either a guardian angel or the luck of the devil. Before the G8 summit in L’Aquila, aides portrayed a man staring into the abyss. Rumours were rife of a new compromising batch of photographs showing Italy’s prime minister cavorting with “escorts”. L’Aquila was being hit by aftershocks from the April earthquake that led Mr Berlusconi to move the summit there. Given another tremor of over four points, it would have been cancelled or moved again. There was such a tremor—but two days after the summit. The spicy photographs, if they exist, remain unpublished. The outcome of the summit reportedly left Mr Berlusconi euphoric.

It also left a question that has nagged many foreign observers ever since his third election win last year: why do so many Italians want as their leader a man whom L’Express, a French magazine, recently called “the buffoon of Europe”? His stranglehold on Italy’s media does not give the whole answer (though it supplies part: television news has paid scant attention to an inquiry by prosecutors into the alleged procurement of women for Mr Berlusconi’s parties).

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