Friday, 9 November 2012

Silvio Berlusconi: is the former PM a dinosaur or a rabbit?



Thursday, November 8, 2012. Frictions between Silvio Berlusconi and Angelino Alfano become clear on a press conference following a long-drawn-out meeting on the candidates for the PdL primary election. And the future of the People of Liberty party becomes cloudier.

Silvio Berlusconi does not really like primary elections and does not trust that much in Angelino Alfano (Berlusconi's former heir apparent and PdL's secretary) capabilities. That's quite clear now. Even though Alfano – former Italian Minister of Justice (and Keeper of the Seals) – was directly chose my the Italian media tycoon.

The former Italian PM already (more or less) agreed on holding primary elections on the 16th of December (in order to decide the premier candidate and a new name for the fell-from-grace People of Freedom Party), but – disclosing the results of an opinion poll he had commissioned earlier that bore quite bad news – he is now convinced that only a “shock” therapy could revive the party; there's a need for a “Berlusconi of '94”, he said during the last meeting at Palazzo Grazioli held with their allies to discuss the details of the elections.

And when the Italian Silvio talks about “shock”, he means that he will pull a rabbit out of his hat, he is quoted to had said during the meeting, the only difference is that this time – instead of a rabbit – it “will be a dinosaur”. It sounded like a promise (or a threat, depending on the point of view), but it's honestly difficult to see how Berlusconi - who was recently convicted of tax fraud and is currently on trial for allegedly having had sex with an under-age prostitute – could represent (again!) a credible candidate to lead Italy.

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“The primary elections does not represent the redemption of the party” said Berlusconi, but he become a minority when he tried to substitute votes with a call centre lead polling or the hand-picked choice of a new candidate by himself. Alfano dismissed this by saying they don't need ice-cream vendors (alluding to the Italian ice-cream company GROM's founder, Guido Martinetti, allegedly considered as a potential leader of the party), stand-up comedians (possibly Berlusconi himself?) and showgirls (the list is quite long, actually... Iliana CalabrĂ² is just the newest of Silvio's favourites), and the meeting seemed to result in an internal row.

During the following press conference Mr Berlusconi decided to pick up Monti government on its policies that “lead to recession and hurt the country”. Berlusconi also stressed that “all the fundamental figures [about unemployment, industrial production, and so on] of the country have worsened over the past year”.

But then he added: "We will not lead our election against Monti” because it could be counterproductive for the PdL. So – as Alfano put it – the PdL is not in favour of Monti's government, but they are not against it either.

Looks like the umpteenth PdL gathering brought more questions, than answers: will the PdL survive, yes or no? Will Angelino Alfano be the successor of SB, yes or no? Will Berlusconi get something out of his hat? Will it be a rabbit or a dinosaur?