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October 6, 2022

Italy, whereto?

For over two weeks, to be more precise since August 1, when the High Court of Cassation confirmed Silvio Berlusconi’s 4-year prison sentence for fiscal fraud, the whole political life of Italy is dominated by the case of the former Italian premier who leads, as it is known, PDL (the Democratic Freedom Party), a political organisation which, jointly with DS (the Leftists Democrats), form the actual ruling coalition.
Not even the usual ‘ferragosto’ celebration represented a moment of peace, although Berlusconi retired at his residence of Arcore, near Milan, and refrained from any kind of statement. And this even though the president of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano insisted on making known, Tuesday late in the evening, the point of view of the Quirrinale Palace. In fact, on many occasions it has been said that the respective message was nothing else than an answer to the pressures put by the leadership of PDL and the close collaborators concerned with securing the freedom and the political future of Berlusconi.
In fact, the message sent by Napolitano contains several very clear signals. The first is addressed to Berlusconi. He must resign himself to waiting the sentence pronounced by the justice, as another premier did. (The allusion refers to Arnaldo Forlani, although he is not mentioned by his name). The leader of PDL, as well as the other representatives of the party must stop attacking the magistracy and threatening the government, the president says. Later, when the pressure will ease and I will receive a plea of pardon or to change the sentence, I will consider it without reserve.
The second signal targets all the political forces, to which Napolitano clearly explains that “a government crisis would be absolutely fatal and any hypothesis about dissolving the Houses of the Parliament is arbitrary and impracticable.” As it is well known, dissolving the Parliament exclusively falls into the competence of the country’s president, so one can rule out such a hypothesis given the clear position of the Quirinale Palace. In fact, the president stresses that “the stability of the government is a priority in view of consolidating the economic recovery.”
Finally, one last warning is sent especially to the most important political parties – PD and PDL. Practically, the president invites the Democratic Party to not underestimate the political role “of the leader of a political organisation of unequalled importance,” definitively condemned. Concretely, he suggests to Guglielmo Epifani and the entire Democratic Party a conciliatory attitude that avoids incursions into the adverse territory. And this because it falls only upon Berlusconi and his party pronouncing with respect to the next leading team of PDL.
One must admit that many commentators of the peninsula received with optimism the signals sent from Quirinale, explaining that they represent a real ‘green card’ for the acting government, which might thus survive in 2014 too, as in the second half of this year Italy will take over the presidency of the EU.
Besides this, there remain, as it is known, no few unknowns. At the end of this month, the specialised body of the Senate will pronounce over depriving Berlusconi of the dignity of senator as a consequence of his definitive sentence. Simultaneously, between September 16 and October 15 he will have to decide between home arrest and social services.
One of the big problems of Berlusconi and especially of the current leaders of PDL refers to the succession of the man who, for two decades, led ‘Forza Italia’ and PDL. Marina Berlusconi, his eldest daughter, who leads Mediaset and Fininvest, publicly refused entering politics. It is more than obvious that ‘Il Cavaliere’ needs time to prepare the succession. Especially as he seems increasingly convinced that, by preserving the role of ‘founding member’ of this government, he can also think at preserving his own future.
The statements delivered these days by many leaders of PDL hint to the fact that easing this state of mind and focusing on the matters that are important for the government is by no means an easy task. In fact, even within the Democratic Party there are many who think about the future, especially in the perspective of the upcoming congress due for November.
Here are just few reasons why it is difficult to give an answer to the title question, at least at the present moment.

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