Leading article: The return of a political comedian

Share
Related Topics

Election campaigns are never dull affairs when Silvio Berlusconi is involved. Ever happy to play the role of political comedian, the former Italian prime minister guarantees voters exuberant and shrill electioneering. But the possible return to power of Mr Berlusconi is no laughing matter at a time when Italy faces a series of deep-rooted problems.

In the run-up to tomorrow's general election, Mr Berlusconi has again dipped into his old bag of populist tricks, suggesting fantastic policies such as the introduction of a tax-free month, and calling for mental health tests for prosecutors. He has also attacked his rival, Walter Veltroni, with accusations that he remains a communist.

With opinion polls banned in the fortnight prior to the election, the current mood of the electorate is difficult to gauge. But in contrast to Mr Berlusconi, Mr Veltroni has been relaxed, self-assured and understated.

And a cool head is what Italy desperately needs. The problems facing the country are legion. Economic growth has all but ground to a halt, the public debt is unsustainably high, and the chasm between the rich north and the impoverished south continues to widen. Italy also faces a skills shortage and a bloated bureaucracy. This is a country in dire need of hard solutions, rather than policy-light theatrics.

In fact, the policy promises of both men have been similar and cautious. They have both pledged to cut taxes and streamline public administration. But Mr Berlusconi's election antics cannot hide his poor record of delivery. Italians might well recall his 2001 campaign, in which he promised an economic miracle. The miracle, of course, never came. Mr Veltroni, on the other hand, is committed to tackling Italy's political instability, using his new centre-left party to bridge the Catholic and communist divide that has hampered Italian politics for so long.

But there can be little doubt that electing Mr Berlusconi, a man unwilling to make difficult policy decisions and incapable of garnering broad support, will do nothing to set Italy back on the road to recovery.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The bustling Accident & Emergency ward at Milton Keynes Hospital  

The NHS needs the courage to adapt and survive

Nigel Edwards
 

Letter from the Sub-Editor: Canada is seen as a peaceful nation, but violent crime isn’t as rare as you might think

Jeffrey Simpson
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?