What is happening to the Caiman?

In his 2006 movie « The Caiman », Italian director Nanni Moretti imagined that a Berlusconi condemned by the Italian justice left the tribunal while a crowd throws debris at the judges, including a molotov cocktail. This is not exactly what happened a few days ago when Silvio Berlusconi was condemned for four years, including one of prison, for fiscal fraud in his handling of Mediaset, the media empire that he owns. The sentence against the former premier also included a five year interdiction to occupy a public position. This is only a sentence of the first degree : Berlusconi will not spend any time in jail and he will be able to continue his role in Italian politics at least until the next spring. The reaction of the Cavaliere was nonetheless very strong: he accused the judicial branch to be a danger to democracy and mentioned the many judiciary procedures involving him as the evidence of the fury of the judicial branch against him. Lucia Annunziata, the head of Huffington Post in Italy, has not hesitated to compare the language of those declarations to the the one used by a “latin-american caudillo”. The consequences of this sentence are very important: the man who just few days before had vowed to retire from active political activity, has decided to go back into politics in order to “reform Italy’s justice”. Berlusconi, whose party is an important part of the coalition which supports the technical government headed by Mario Monti, has also vowed that he would be more assertive and has threatened to make fall the technical government, with some reporting that the crisis was avoided only thank to the intervention of his closest political allies. Indeed, to Berlusconi, the sentence by the Court of Milan has broken what he regarded as a tacit agreement between him, the technical government and the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano: that he would support the technical government if him and his empire were not to be touched by the judicial branch. The declarations that he made after the sentence are hostile to the leadership of Monti and to the President of the Republic, marking an important turn in the position of his party in regards to the technical government.

The return of the Caiman however complicated things considerably for the Partito delle Libertà, or PDL, the party that he founded and with which he governed Italy until 2011. Since the end of Berlusconi’s last government, the PDL has gone from defeat to defeat under the leadership of the former Minister of Justice Angelo Alfano. In few years it has lost his status of biggest political party to become only the third force of the country, behind the center-left Partito Democratico (or PD) and the populist Movimento a 5 Stelle (M5S) headed by the former comic Beppe Grillo. The most recent defeat happened in these days as the PDL lost to the M5S the the primacy in Sicily, a region which had until then been one of its traditional bastions. If it’s true tat the PDL still retains a very sizable presence in the Parliament, it is also probable that this presence is going to be reduced significantly in the next elections. In this context of crisis, the leadership of the PDL stands divided between those who support Monti and those who will stand with Berlusconi if he was to choose to move against the technical government. The decision to hold internal elections to choose the party’s candidate in the next elections adds to the atmosphere of incertainty. For all these reasons not all of the PDL’s nomenklatura is happy of Berlusconi’s comeback and a struggle for power is likely to take place between a minority faction of around thirty MPs led by Berlusconi and the majority of the PDL’s leaders who are rallying around Alfano.

In this situation many things could happen: the PDL may choose to pull the plug and end Monti’s government (if Berlusconi takes again control of his party) or maybe a new political subject will form around Berlusconi in sight of the next election as he leaves the declining PDL to his former political allies led by Alfano. In any way both Berlusconi and the MPs he brought to Parliament face a very uncertain political future because the Italian electorate has grown tired of the man who has been the single most influential man of the country since his first electoral victory in 1994.

BY: Alberto Pecoraro
Notes:

Repubblica, 31/10/2012, Rivolta PDL contro Berlusconi, I deputati si schierano con Alfano

Repubblica, 26/10/2012, Processo Mediaset, Berlusconi condannato
4 anni di reclusione per frode fiscale

Huffington Post, 30/10/2012, Anticorruzione, Mario Monti non teme i numeri. Ma il clima è cambiato, dopo il risveglio del Cav.

Huffington Post, 28/10/2012, Silvio Berlusconi torna in campo contro Mario Monti. L’ira sul Prof e su Napolitano: “Mi hanno tradito”. E già oggi voleva staccare la spina, ma l’ha frenato Confalonieri