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Italy’s Bunga-Bunga Man Goes Bung

  • November 14th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

berlusconi-2001-ec.jpgThe resignation of the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (picture) on the weekend (12.11.11) brought passing satisfaction to the legion of opponents built up over a long period in office, heavily tempered by concern about settling problems ahead for the country.

Italy, for decades carrying extraordinary levels of public debt, ran foul of the drop in economic growth levels that followed the financial crisis on 2008 – ending the option of funding the excess spending out of expansion.

Mr Berlusconi, proclaiming himself  well able to manage the problem because of his background as an entrepreneur, was distracted from that effort by scandal pressing in on his own position.

ruby-rubacuori2.jpgProbity charges would be averted by laws protecting office holders from  prosecution, or by act of sympathetic parliamentary numbers; his notorious “bunga-bunga” parties, and relationship with a teenage prostitute known as Ruby the Heart Stealer (picture), brought ignominy – and a collapse in support from opinion polls .

See EUAustralia Online: “Weekend warriors on world economy”, 17.10.11; “Moves on debt contagion and Italy”, 15.7.11; “Italy: 95% teject Berlusconi laws”, 15.6.11; “Bunga-Bunga!! Berlusconi set for April trial”, 16.2.11.

This month, with several government borrowings coming due, interest rates on bonds began to surge towards 7%; the European partners began to study collective action in earnest, to try to stave off a plunge into recession; the governing coalition began to fray; the Prime Minister lost the numbers he needed to keep any hold on power.

In the end he was jeered in the streets while driving from parliament to quit.

Some of the bad feeling of this demise, of a man still talking about a fight-back, but at 75 not in a good position for that, was reflected in a Reuters despatch in the aftermath of his fall:

“Silvio Berlusconi dominated Italy for 17 years with a unique mix of political talent and brazen behaviour but in the end the born showman was humiliatingly jeered from office, brought down by pressure from abroad”, it said.

“A man who had rejoiced in his ability to talk directly to ordinary Italians looked pale and isolated as he was forced to resign on Saturday after his broken promises and crumbling power brought Italy to the brink of financial disaster…”

eurosymbol-frankfurt.jpgThe national debt problem has been placed in the hands of a more technocratic government under Mario Monti, an economist and former European Union  Commissioner.

Austerity measures brought in by Silvio Berlusconi are to stay; more longer-term remedies must extend to endemic problems, like the enduring public indebtedness, official corruption, and organised crime – some estimates putting 20% of the economy in the hands of gangsters.

Reference

Barry Moody, “Newsmaker: Showman Berlusconi makes ignominious exit”, Reuters, London, 14.11.11. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/14/us-italy-berlusconi-idUSTRE7AD01020111114, (14.11.11).

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