Ciao Berlu! How does Berlusconi do it?

Berlusconi: immortal political survivor? Or boorish, manipulative clown? Photo: DonkeyHotey on flickr.The abuse of office, the soliciting of underage girls for sex, political blunders, alleged mafia connections, yet charismatic, energetic, brilliant and rich? During the course of his flamboyant political career, the phenomenon Silvio Berlusconi has been applauded and booed for his actions and character. It would seem that the inhabitants of Italy are intertwined with Berlusconi in a complicated, paradoxical love-hate relationship.

Berlusconi first entered politics in 1994, when the Italian parliament was severely fractured. Although Italian politics is often noted for its unstable nature, the opposite is true. After the Second World War, the Christian Democrats, representing the democratic centre, were in power for most of the time as the Italian Communist Party (PCI) was expelled due to external pressure from the United States. However, scandals concerning allegations of corruption at the end of the 80’s ended the Christian Democratic party’s political dominance. After these events, a lack of unity was prevalent within Italian politics, opening the way for Berlusconi. By presenting his political party, ‘Forza Italy’ (Go Italy), as a fresh alternative to the existing political landscape, he earned the majority of the vote and became Prime Minister for the first time in 1994.

by Benny Wilbrink