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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas