The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Will Bank Hanky Panky Boost Bunga Bunga Berlusconi?

Silvio “Bunga Bunga” Berlusconi has caught another break in the run up to Italian elections: a major Italian bank has revealed huge losses from derivatives that could push it into partial nationalization. That might not matter on its own, but many of the leaders of the parties running against Berlusconi had close ties to the bank. Berlusconi, who has been gaining on his opponents in the polls, is all over this one. The FT reports:

Italy’s centre-right party, led by Silvio Berlusconi, has seized on the issue to attack its centre-left opponents, who have had long institutional ties with MPS. “Monte dei Paschi is close to collapse,” commented Angelino Alfano, secretary of the People of Liberty. “This is an example of how the left would govern the country.”

Il Giornale, a Milan daily owned by the Berlusconi family, ran banner headlines saying the more than €4bn paid by Italians in a widely hated property tax imposed by Mr Monti was in effect going to prop up a failed bank.

Anything that tarnishes the Mr. Efficient reputation of “Mediocre Mario” Monti or that undercuts public trust in the left could turn voters back to the devil they know. The old devil is waiting with open arms.

Edited for clarity. Thank you, astute readers.

Published on January 25, 2013 9:00 am