identification, as supporters of the prime minister would argue. In fact, the Vaticaninjected itself into the debate and argued that access to clean water is a basic humanright. Bishop Mariano Crociataargued that access to clean waterwas a “fundamentalhuman right, connected to the very right to life.” Additionally, within Berlusconi’sgovernment, Roberto Maroni, the interior minister and a member of the NorthernLeague, opposed water privatization.As Italians fret over their economic future, Mr. Berlusconi became embroiled inscandals. Further, self-aware Italians became increasingly concerned that they were becoming international laughing stocks due to the supposed sexual exploits of theiraged prime minister.Now that the prime minister is not protected from prosecution he is expected to bepresent at several trials. The most well known involves allegations that he paid for sexwith an under-aged woman. The “Rubygate trial” has garnered international attentionfor the reason that the prime minister attempted to use his position to have the womanreleased after she had been arrested for allegedly stealing a
3,000 bracelet.Other allegations involve the “Bunga Bunga” sex parties where as many as 33 womenwould attend and Mr. Berlusconi would have sex with any number of them hopingthat this would propel their bourgeoning television careers in Mr. Berlusconi’s mediaempire.Allegations of sexual impropriety are not new for the prime minister. The fact that theallegations have been so heavily covered by Italian and international media haseroded the prime minister’s popularity. However scandalous the allegations are, thetrial and eventual verdict will take years to unfold. By then, Berlusconi’s future might be decided by his inability to hold together his coalition with the Northern League.Berlusconi’s political strength has been his ability to read the pulse of the Italianelectorate. While he has previously been described as the “great communicator” hiswanton disregard for keeping his alleged exploits hidden from public view indicatedthat he has lost touch with the Italian electorate and he has misjudged the ability of Italians to accept his many perceived faults.Italians have witnessed their once admired economy falter as other economies havesurpassed it. The public allegations against the prime minister have been an unwanteddistraction from the very real problems facing Italians.