The once invincible superhero of Italian politics, Silvio Berlusconi, is suddenly finding himself cornered. Cornered he was before, but was never forced to look as weak and battered as he is now. The result is that a new chapter is being written in Italian politics, a beautiful chapter that augurs well both for the country and the continent.
In a serious blow to Berlusconi, an Italian Senate committee yesterday approved a motion for the embattled billionaire tycoon to be expelled from parliament following his criminal conviction, dealing another humiliating blow to the tycoon. The senators voted 15 for and eight against and the motion now goes to the full Senate for final approval expected later this month. There is no doubt that the latest development would add to the political tensions in Italy that threatened to topple the uneasy coalition government earlier this week and sent shock waves through the financial markets.
The biggest defeat of Berlusconi came when his sinister plan to bring down the government, by withdrawing the support of his party, failed miserably. He had said on Saturday that he was pulling his ministers out of the government and pushing for early elections but the ministers themselves and other once loyal allies rebelled at his plan and he was forced into a humiliating U-turn in parliament on Wednesday. The Supreme Court on August 1 had turned down Berlusconi’s second and final appeal against a tax fraud ruling, handing him his first definitive conviction in many years of legal woes. And a judge in Milan is due to decide this month whether he should serve the one-year prison sentence he received as part of the conviction as house arrest or community service. The 77-year-old wily politician had hoped to retaliate against the verdict by bringing the government down, but the rebellion in his party is proof of his waning clout. A severely mauled Berlusconi will find it difficult to regain his lost clout and will have to spend the coming months licking the wounds of humiliation.
Italy is going through an economic crisis and the country needs a powerful government to take tough economic decisions. Tension had gripped the markets after Berlusconi threatened to topple the government, because that would have dragged the country deeper into political chaos and uncertainty. But the ministers of Berlusconi’s party decided that their allegiance must first lie with the country, not their controversial leader who has been bulldozing his way into power using money and media power.
Berlusconi must face the court for all his actions, and if found guilty, must serve his time in prison like any other Italian•