Monday, August 05, 2013


When a twitter acquaintance asked me how people were reacting here to the Berlusconi verdict, I was publicly noncommittal but explained to her privately that I was being careful what I said as things might turn nasty. Following the verdict, you see, the well-meaning President Napolitano had worked everybody up by calling for calm and then Senator Sandro Bondi, who is the National Coordinator of Mr Berlusconi's Pdl Party, started talking about the risk of "civil war", a suggestion which I was relieved to see being treated with derision under the hashtag #guerracivile on twitter. President Napolitano called Mr Bondi's words "irresponsible".

For those of you who have not followed the proceedings or are still puzzled by the tax evasion verdict, Italy's highest appeal court upheld the conviction but Mr Berlusconi will only have to serve one year of a four-year prison sentence and gets a choice regarding whether to serve it under house arrest or on a kind of probation which may involve his participating in community service. The question of whether the former Premier will be barred from public office is to be considered by a lower appeal court yet again and this procedure will begin only in October. Mr Berlusconi remains free until the 15th of that month while he considers his position. All this appears quite potty to most people outside Italy and the world's media have already expressed their incredulity. To focus on these admittedly incomprehensible deliberations, however, is to miss the point, which is that, in a country which, although a democracy, still sets great store by who a person is or whom he knows and where money talks in ways long abandoned by Europe's remaining monarchies, it is momentous that the convictìon was upheld at all.

Meanwhile, here, a game of "We'll bring down your government if you don't reform the judiciary!" began and everyone thought this was only to be expected and a perfectly normal development. What astonished me about Mr Bondi's reaction was that he found it unacceptable that the leader of "Italy's most important party" should have his passport rescinded and be barred from public office but never seemed to find it unacceptable that this same leader's behaviour had led to serious allegations being made and had damaged Italy's image abroad.

At a pro-Berlusconi demonstration in Rome yesterday Mr Berlusconi again asserted his innocence but said that the government must continue with the economic reforms which his coalition has agreed to and that he did not want his party to be labelled "irresponsible". Thus there is a little calm - for now.

Personally I believe that the good sense of most Italians will prevail and as for the guerra civile, I wouldn't worry too much - we won't be having it before Ferragosto.


Lee said...

No comment. I try most times to refrain from commenting on the politics etc. of other countries...I've enough to deal with and comment on with our own! ;)

Whispering Walls said...

Does being out of government count as community service?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Fair comment, Lee! Haha, WW! It should!


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