The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Berlusconi: The Donald Trump of Italy?

At age 73, Silvio Berlusconi is finally ready to close down the “bunga bunga” parties and settle down with one woman (again). At least that’s what he’s been telling the Italian public on talk shows this week, announcing his engagement to, apparently, his one true love discovered after a lifetime search, the 27-year-old Francesca Pascale. The Guardian reports:

“Finally I feel less lonely,” Mr Berlusconi said. “I am engaged to a Neapolitan, it’s official.

“She is 27 years old, with very solid values, beautiful on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside.

“She is very close to me, she loves me very much and I feel the same. My daughter Marina appreciates her and loves her very much too.”

Mr Berlusconi does not appear to have let his second marriage get in the way of his engagement announcement.

Surely this has nothing to do with Berlusconi’s fourth bid for the Prime Ministership this February.

More than anything else, this communicates Berlusconi’s extreme desperation and the fading of his once-potent political brand. Realizing after decades in national politics that allegations of cavorting with prostitutes (or at least underage ones) were damaging to his image, Berlusconi is retreating to serial monogamy in an effort to restore his once potent appeal among women.

This is unlikely to rescue him. Even in decline Berlusconi remains wily, rich, and bold—but the audience seems ready to move on.

Berlusconi needs to close down the circus; otherwise, he could end up as the Italian Donald Trump—a clown who keeps performing to an empty house long after the audience goes home.

Published on December 17, 2012 12:00 pm