Opinions - 21.12.2012 - 00:00 

The cavaliere’s comeback?

Once more, Silvio Berlusconi is trying to present himself as “Italy’s savior”. Mario Monti’s resignation announcement causes political instability. HSG Professor Renato Martinoni on a country in the midst of a crisis.<br/>


21 December 2012. “The Monti government will not eat a Christmas panettone”, political party Lega Nord threatened a few months ago. The warning was for real. Many had lent themselves to the illusion, though, that Mario Monti would make it to the end of his term. It was some people’s impatience, maybe the envy of others and the political uncertainty before the upcoming elections in February that led to the sudden end.

Berlusconi’s party withdrew its support of Monti in parliament and thus caused the governmental crisis. In addition, the cavaliere said that he wants to be his party’s leading candidate once again. His populist air and his demeanor of wanting to be the nation’s hero are the same as 20 years ago. But this time, the media tycoon is not trying to rescue his native country from the communists. Instead, Berlusconi wants to stop Italy’s “technocrats” from transforming Italy into another Greece.

Italy’s condition gives reason for concern
As always, Berlusconi is inverting the truth – and is thus trying yet again to present himself as “Italy’s savior”. He does not care that he himself brought ruin on the country. He also seems to find it irrelevant whether Monti’s government gets a reasonable program of reform off the ground in the next few months. This time, the situation is more alarming than previously.

Italy’s political world is fragmented, partly because the old bipolarization, which kept the political groups together, does not exist any longer. Political indifference makes Italians abstain from voting or flee into new, anti-political movements. This is another reason why a comeback by Berlusconi is a great risk to the stability of Italy’s political system. He is driven by vanity, a feeling of omnipotence and by feelings of revenge rather than by the wish to help his country.

The center left-wing coalition seems to be the most balanced political force today, even though it is not yet clear who will form an alliance with whom. The opposite pole, formerly led by Berlusconi, is in strife, disunited and lacks an innovative political program. When two people quarrel, a third rejoices – in this case the successor of the Democrazia Cristiana and its former coalition partner (Liberals and Social Democrats).

Solving problems under pressure
The top representatives of the “third pole” see Monti as their ideal leading candidate. They assemble economists, politicians and intellectuals in a think tank to find a collective way out of the situation. But time for a possible consensual solution is getting short. The only new political force of the moment, the protest movement MoVimento 5 Stelle has very democratic intentions – it only communicates online, for example – but turns out to be too populist and disorganized.

Italy’s political landscape looks grim today. It is hard to imagine what the political situation will look like in the future. According to polls, the Left could win in the next elections. That government would not last long. Basically, many Italians and the avant-garde have lost faith in politics. No wonder that few intellectuals have taken a stand for “Professor Monti”. This is unfortunate because thanks to him the Italian government has achieved some new credibility. Many people – even in Europe – justifiably built their hopes on the “technocrats”.

Picture: Photocase / Leonard

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