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Berlusconi Attack: The Aftermath

(3 votes, average: 4.67 out of 5)

January 11, 2010 News & Oddities, Politics 1 Comment

After a year full of sex scandals, divorce proceedings and renewed corruption charges, the Italian Prime Minister “was badly hurt when a man hurled a metal souvenir of Milan Cathedral at him on December 13.” (Timesonline.co.uk).

The attack could not have been more well-timed: Berlusconi’s time seemed up when ‘No Berlusconi Day’ was announced for 4 December 2009, amidst his declaration to ‘reform’ the post-war constitution – a speech which “caused uproar in Italy and widened the damaging rift between him and Gianfranco Fini, his main rival on the centre Right” (Timesonline.co.uk). International commentators had already anticipated a “shift in attitudes” and even new “hope for Italian politics” (Guardian.co.uk), when the miniature Milan Cathedral souvenir became the unlikely instrument bringing about a few days or weeks of renewed hope for Berlusconi.

As a wave of sympathy with the attacked Prime Minister swept across Italy, his approval ratings (which had severely slipped over the past six months) bounced back (Timesonline.co.uk), and The Guardian reports that “after months of scandal Italian prime minister has found a weapon to split his opponents.” (Guardian.co.uk).

But this is not all: Directly after the attack, while images of the wounded Prime Minister were broadcast around the world by all major news networks, his followers blamed “his political enemies and courtroom adversaries for inciting the violence”, and announced “plans for new restrictions on demonstrations and the internet.” (Guardian.co.uk). This attempt to ‘stop online hatred’ is likely to bring the Italian government into conflict with the EU (Guardian.co.uk), however it is conceivable that the attack on the Prime Minister will considerably ease the way for such restrictions.

The Times’ Richard Owen predicts the following for Italy in 2010: “Silvio Berlusconi will use the wave of sympathy which followed the attack on him in Milan to push through new laws through parliament to restore his immunity from prosecution — which the constitutional court overturned in October — and shorten criminal trials so that cases in which he is accused of corruption run out of time. However, the battle to shape “post-Berlusconi” Italy has already begun. The divided Left poses little threat, but his own allies are unreliable, from the unpredictable Northern League to Gianfranco Fini, the co-founder of the PdL and Speaker of the Lower House.” (Timesonline.co.uk).

In this sense, while the attack has not completely removed all obstacles for him, we think that Mr Berlusconi has regained public sympathy and positive attention for a very affordable price – ultimately only the loss of one tooth. It is now reported that the Prime Minister is ready for work as of 10 January 2010, and that he has made good use of the holiday break by starting to record a new CD with love songs (Telegraph.co.uk).

Further news includes:

  • The sales of the miniature Milan Cathedral souvenir that was used to attack the Prime Minister had gone up considerably around Christmas, leading the vendors to believe that it had become a popular Christmas present (Nytimes.com).
  • Artists such as Marco Ferrigno lept to create new Nativity Scene sets, featuring the wounded Prime Minister, Veronica Lario, his soon-to-be ex-wife, Naomi Letizia, the 18-year old girl from Naples, as well as regular and transsexual prostitutes – all of which were protagonists in the sex scandal engulfing the Prime Minister during much of 2009 (Nytimes.com).
  • The Prime Minister has been seen “unscarred” in southern France, where he purchased not only four “sensual bronze nudes,” but also from a local art gallery “a lithograph of U.S. President Barack Obama as Superman.” (Abcnews.com).

It seems that we are back to trivialities when it comes to the Italian Prime Minister, trivialities for which the newly again sympathetic italian public will pick up a newspaper. What seemed completely off the map only a few weeks ago – Berlusconi holding high approval ratings throughout 2010, or regaining immunity from prosecution – are now again real options.

How have you experienced the sentiment in Italy after the attack on Prime Minister Berlusconi? What do you think will happen now? Let us know in the comments.

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    [...] We have already commented on how the timing of the unfortunate attack on Prime Minister Berlusconi was convenient, in terms of his political goals, here. [...]

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