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Silvio Berlusconi poised to become kingmaker in Italian politics

Berlusconi urged voters to support his party, portraying himself as a responsible pro-EU centrist amid a wave of nationalist populism. Someone who can make the right-wing coalition more moderate.

“Every vote on Forza Italia will reinforce the moderate centrist image of the coalition,” he said. Il Jonalea daily owned by his family.

Berlusconi was prime minister for the first time from 1994 to 1995, then again in 2001-2006 and 2008-2011. He has ruled public life longer at the helm of a sprawling media and sports empire that includes the country’s largest private television network, newspapers, the AC Milan football team, a film distribution company and a advertising buying company.

When they were young: Silvio Berlusconi, left, and Vladimir Putin at the latter’s country house in Zavidovo, near Moscow, in 2003.

He was elected to the European Parliament in 2019, but has rarely participated. He remains on trial for allegedly bribing guests to lie about his infamous ‘bunga-bunga’ sex party when he was prime minister. It allegedly involved an orgy, including pole dancing and striptease, in the basement of his villa near Milan. He denies the allegations.

In his brief inclination to become president earlier this year, he even introduced himself as a “bunga-bunga guy” to some young independent MPs and senators.

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He told the news site that his return was the result of his ‘responsibility’ Politics, in a written response to a question last week. He said Italy needs values ​​that only his party can represent to revive the economy.

“My parents told me that when I have a strong sense of responsibility to do something, I have to have the courage to do it,” he said.

In March, he was sworn in to his girlfriend, Italian Forza MP Martina Fascina, 32, in a symbolic “Festival of Love” ceremony. But he has yet to officially tie the knot amid an inheritance dispute with his family. She was the deputy leader of her party.

His social media campaign capitalized on nostalgia for the 1990s and touted tax cuts and pension increases. Even without a formal institutional role, Berlusconi will wield considerable power in the next government if his party’s polls are as high as pollsters predict.

Brothers Italia is comfortably ahead of the other two parties, with polls showing it will get around 24% of the vote, against 12% for the Coalition and around 8% for Forza Italia.

Forza Italia president Silvio Berlusconi (centre) and his partner Marta Fascina leave.Credit:in mid

After a decade of political turmoil, Draghi appeared to stabilize the government and win the EU’s trust as Rome seeks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. But his cabinet has grown increasingly testy, and his tough stance on Russian sanctions and oil and gas embargoes has strained part of his power-sharing government, fueling speculation that the Kremlin may have played a game. a role in its overthrow.

Berlusconi and Salvini have always been close to the Russian president. A Naples-based tie maker claimed in May that the speckled blue and white tie Putin wore during Russia’s Victory Day military parade was a gift from Berlusconi. The couple lived in each other’s vacation home and skied together.

Other gifts include a four-poster bed from Putin to Berlusconi, which an escort wrote in an accessible book about sex with the Italian leader in 2008. Berlusconi reportedly gave Putin an image of Duana depicting life.

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Following the collapse of Draghi’s regime, Italian newspapers reported that despite the war in Ukraine, Berlusconi’s and Salvini’s parties had engaged with the Russian Embassy within weeks, leading them to withdraw their involvement in the Russian Embassy. Support. Berlusconi denied speaking to the Russian ambassador, while the coalition denied any wrongdoing.

Two former prime ministers, Enrico Letta and Matteo Renzi, have called for an investigation into alleged interference by the parliamentary intelligence committee.

Letta, the current center-left Democratic Party leader, said Berlusconi and Salvini needed to explain their ties to the Kremlin.

“We wonder if Putin overthrew Draghi’s government,” he said. “If so, it will be the worst.”

Stefano Stefanini, Italy’s former ambassador to NATO, said last week that Salvini and Berlusconi clearly have a friendship and ties with Putin-led Russia.

“Their support for Italian, European and NATO positions on Ukraine is mixed at best,” he said.

Berlusconi said he “would not be involved in any government” if he was not absolutely sure of the government’s “democratic correctness, sense of responsibility and loyalty to Europe and the West”.

The outcome of the election could reverberate across Europe and beyond. Under Draghi, Italy sided firmly with Germany and France, demonstrating European solidarity against Russian aggression in Ukraine. A new Italian government could send a more nebulous message, changing the dynamics of Europe.

Leila Simone Tarani, a professor at the Center for Italian Politics at King’s College London, said it was unclear how the new government, including Salvini and Berlusconi, would position Russia despite their promise to continue supporting the struggle of Ukraine and to deepen integration with the EU. .

“They may be less supportive of sending arms to Ukraine and maintaining efforts in Russia,” she said. “It’s not entirely clear: they agreed and said they were clearly a pro-Atlantic, pro-America alliance, but I don’t think we really know that.”

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Tarani said Draghi’s resignation was not the disaster portrayed, as a snap election would provide a new mandate for the new government and avert months of stalemate and instability.

“The election will be quick, which is good for international investors, and the campaign will be shorter,” she said. “The election is still six to eight months away, so this is a time when it has to come. There should be a new government by October, which is better than a very heavy long-term campaign.

Tarrani said it was unclear whether right-wing parties would have the majority, nor ruled out that a wider group of people from the center, left and center-right would take their place. But she said it didn’t matter whether any right-wing populist government called itself “pro-EU”, the real problem was its politics.

“The problem, for example, is that they want to introduce very low tax changes for everyone at the same level,” she said. “It means we won’t have enough money to pay our debts, we’re going to have problems…it doesn’t help us in Europe.”

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