Berlusconi has brought ridicule on himself and his country.He must go(editoriale del 22 gennaio 2011)
It is not only the demeaning details that have shocked the Italians — thetopless parties, the underage prostitutes, the women instructed by leeringpandars to dress up as nurses to gratify the lust of an ageing lothario. It is thespectacle of a prime minister disgracing himself and his country with behaviournot only tawdry and immoral but allegedly illegal that has finally begun to joltthe complacency of a public too long indulgent of Silvio Berlusconi’shypocritical buffoonery.Mr Berlusconi denies that he intervened to have theft charges dropped against“Ruby Heartstealer”, a Moroccan nightclub dancer, the focus of investigationsby magistrates in Milan who accuse him of paying her for sex when she wasonly 17. She admits attending one of his parties, but her denial that she sleptwith him has been undermined by the leaked transcripts of wiretaps in whichshe demands €5 million in return for her silence. All Italy has now been readingthe scabrous details of the sex parties hosted by a man who has campaignedon family values. Even the reticent Vatican, normally sympathetic to MrBerlusconi’s centre-right coalition, has denounced this appalling departurefrom the “robust morality” expected of Italian politicians. The question increasingly asked by Italy’s bemused neighbours is why voterstolerate behaviour inappropriate in any 74-year-old man and utterly repugnantin someone elected to focus on the economic and political difficulties besettingthe country. It surely cannot be that Italians are so understanding of sexualpeccadillos or so admiring of a devil-may-care machismo that they cannot seethe huge damage that their Prime Minister is doing to their country. Manyyounger Italians, especially women voters, have long tired of the frivolousimage much of the world has of them. Many, if not most, would like Italy to beincluded among those developed democracies that put sexual equality, ethicalstandards and individual responsibility at the heart of public life. As it is, MrBerlusconi’s antics represent the kind of opera buffa that detractors equatewith postwar Italian politics.His survival so far has depended in part on his ability to manipulate publicopinion and in part on the failure of opponents to offer any coherent orattractive alternative. The Prime Minister has spent huge amounts of time andenergy trying to pass laws that would limit judicial investigation of his businessdealings or his conduct in office. At the same time he has used his mediaempire to ridicule his opponents and play down accusations against him,intimidating journalists and lashing out at the “violation of basic constitutionalprinciples” by those investigating his private life.