Andrea Mammone: The legacy of Berlusconi-ism will run for a while more

 

Share
Related Topics

For many Italians, the last two decades will be viewed as one of the most unfortunate periods in the long history of a beautiful country. But it could also be seen as the latest test in a laboratory of democracy, which has taken in Mussolini's fascism, the strongest communist party in the West and, until now, Silvio Berlusconi.

The media tycoon was seen in the early 1990s like the saviour of a political system which many saw as broken. Political polarisation, the erosion of traditional ideologies, and a widespread system of bribes seemed the rule.

Berlusconi offered a sort of new Promised Land. He was successful, and rich. The situation could only improve. The media tycoon also became the projection of a certain stereotypical italianità (Italian-ness) - smart, shrewd, a Latin lover, funny, but also 'status-seeker'. He was paradoxically helped by the centre-left and leftist parties. These proved to be a quarrelling galaxy with different interests and ideas - able to get rid of Romano Prodi twice, despite the fact that he was the only one able to win elections against Berlusconi.

Unfortunately for him, Berlusconi lost credibility over the years: both nationally and internationally. Politics became a 'one-man-show' centred on the increasingly-absurd figure of Berlusconi: sexual scandals, police investigations, defence of his financial empire. This went along with increasingly hard-line proposals to stop wiretapping, change juvenile prostitution laws, and prevent journalists scrutinising politicians - it was an idea that modern democracies could be governed like a personal business without too much internal opposition and international interference. This was the triumph of personal interests over public duties and collective needs, and like the Emperor Nero, government leaders seemed to play the violin while Italy was financially 'burning'.

But like the Anglo-American troops liberated (with the backing of anti-fascist partisans) the country from fascism, international forces - the European Central Bank, the EU, the Franco-German leadership, and financial markets - similarly helped Italy dismiss this failing and often very embarrassing contemporary, Berlusconi's leadership. There was of course also growing opposition from his fellow industrialists and even from the Church, and economically his leadership has been devastating.

Yesterday showed the political wind had well and truly changed. Berlusconi survived the budget vote, but he lost the parliamentary majority. He tried not to step down, but there was an outcry - including from some of his main allies. Now, after a consultation with the Italian President, Berlusconi said he will resign after parliament passes the necessary economic plan requested by the European Union. This can be a matter of weeks - if not before.

This essentially represents the end of the tycoon's political career, but the legacy of Berlusconi-ism will still run for a while more. He finally lost, but he will surely not be forgotten soon.

Andrea Mammone is a historian at Kingston University London. He has co-edited books including 'Italy Today: The Sick Man in Europe'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicky Clarke has criticised the Duchess of Cambridge for having grey hair  

Letting one’s hair turn grey would be the most subversive Royal act

Rosie Millard
 

London’s foreign money bubble is bursting – but will we be better off?

Chris Blackhurst
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash