Exit Berlusconi
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  • Eurydice

    A major reason Italy has managed to maintain stability through its 60 or governments in the post-war period (and a major selling point made to nervous international investors) is that Italy has an embedded class of bureaucrats that continues to manage things regardless of who’s at the top. Think of it as the Italian version of “Yes, Minister” (Si, Ministro?). So yes, Italy is difficult to change, but the world changed for them when they gave up the lira and lower level bureaucracy is not the place to deal with such changes.

    Compared to other Italian prime ministers, Berlusconi has lasted the longest, but his reign hasn’t been continuous (his 9-10 years have been split into 3 pieces). A couple of years here and there are not enough to effect anything, even if Belusconi wanted to, which I don’t think he did. I’d say that Berlusconi’s goals were more to use the political system to augment his fortune and to protect himself from criminal prosecution rather than any desire to change anything for the Italian people. And for this I will blame him for squandering an opportunity and for wasting the Italian public’s time.

  • Kenny

    1. Excellent analysis on Berlusconi, especially the alalogy of him being King Log.

    2. Eurydice says that Italy maintained its stability for 60-years because of its bureaucrats. Perhaps so, but I think a much bigger reason was America’s security blanket.

  • Corlyss

    “Yet for all that, he was the most successful Italian politician of modern times; only Benito Mussolini held the reins longer or more tightly.”

    Steve Grasso, a CNBC Fast Money trader, whose skepticism of the Eurozone knows no bounds, has offered a word of caution about Berlusconi’s ouster: Berlusconi was pro-growth and pro-business in a way that no other Italian PM has been in many decades. Grasso claims that while Italy coming to grips with their financial reality is crucial to the survival of the Eurozone, the growth on which the success of the austerity measures depends will not come easily at the hands of any other PM, nor will the stability that Berlusconi has mastered. It may turn out to be impossible to deliver fiscal medicine to a dependent, resentful, and easily violent citizenry without the tools to ensure their acceptance and national stability as well.

  • Jack

    This is an excellent post; it’s really an essay.

    Maybe with impending economic collapse, the Italians will finally recognize that the Risorgimento has ultimately been a failure. The disparate parts of Italy were unnaturally welded together in a wave of nineteenth century nationalism that seems rather old fashioned and quaint today.

    Italy ought to be broken up into three parts so as to let local authorities be more responsive to parochial concerns. There would be a Northern Italy, with its capital in Milan; a revival of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in the Mezzogiorno, with its capital in Naples; and, finally, a revival of the Papal States in central Italy, with its capital in Rome.

    Harsh economic necessity might push the Italians into some radical political and social change.

  • Eurydice

    @Kenny – a US security blanket has nothing to do with keeping Italian government offices open and working. My point about stability is that the Italians have developed a system that divorces day-to-day functions from volatile political antics.

  • I was in Germany when Berlusconi was reelected in 2008. I and several oder ones (there were many Italians in my town) were amazed: how could the Cavaliere be back?

    I remembered this feeling when I read this post my Mr Mead. “Berlusconi’s fall from power doesn’t mean that an opportunity was lost. There was no opportunity for comprehensive Italian reform.”

    Maybe Berlusconi’s failure is rather an national than a personal one. He was there because the Italians, for some obscure, freudian reason, wanted him there. Even if for achieving nothing at all.

    Which makes everything much harder now.

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