Finally. Nobody was 100% sure it would actually happen, but it has – Silvio Berlusconi is no longer Italy’s Prime Minister. There were rumours that Berlusconi was having second thoughts and intended to withdraw his resignation promise. In end then though, resigning was a promise he kept.
One of Berlusconi’s parting comments was directed towards his Lega Nord coalition partner – he told them to support Italy’s prime minister in waiting Mario Monti. Whether they will or not, remains to be seen. The Lega will be terrified of what Monti wants to do. Monti will work to unite Italy, the Lega Nord wants to split the country.
As Berlusconi’s car approached Italy’s President’s offices to hand in his resignation, crowds in Rome erupted, whistling, shouting buffoon, mafioso, go home and even singing hallelujah, as these two videos, one by Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano which has been highly critical of Berlusconi and his government:
Bye Bye Berlusconi. Berlusconi Resigns. Party time.
Berlusconi has resigned and is immersed in a chorus of whistles: the end of a dictatorship
Some Italians did turn out in support for the man who virtually ruined Italy.
After Berlusconi’s resignation had been announced, Italians in Rome celebrated. Corks on bottles of prosecco and spumante popped, toasts where made, and car horns blared, as you can see from this video:
Some regarded the 12th November as being a kind of liberation day for Italy. There was a distinct feel of New Year’s Eve in the air too, in my house and in a few others around the peninsula.
I was not in Rome, but did take to the streets of Milan, after having drunk some prosecco. There was no huge crowd in Milan’s centre. Car horns were silent. No choirs singing hallelujah, either. Quite a contrast to what went on in Rome.
A small crowd of Milan’s indignados did turn up and celebrate Berlusconi’s downfall, but the celebrations where minuscule in comparison to what happened when Berlusconi’s Mayor of Milan was soundly beaten earlier this year – but it was warmer then.
Italy’s Credibility Boost
Now Silvio Berlusconi is no more, Italy’s credibility in the eyes of the markets should improve markedly. The first signs of this should be seen tomorrow.
The passing of yet another austerity package for Italy today may also help Italy grow and become the economic force it really should be and this should mean employment for more people, plus, an eventual growth in incomes, though this may take time.
The end is a beginning
Monti knows the road ahead will an uphill struggle, and he’s going to have to sort out the mess left by the Berlusconi government as well as trying to resolve quite a number of Italy’s long term problems, such as a dodgy legal system, undemocratic democracy, inefficient politicians, organised crime and employment laws, plus a good few other bits and bobs.
No doubt Italy’s somewhat misguided and irresponsible trades unions will stick spanners in cogs too.
As already noted, the reaction of Italy’s stock markets when they open on Monday will be interesting, as will be the changes in interest rates on Italy’s public debt mountain.
A new government for Italy, made up of skilled technocrats, is being formed. Just who will do what is still unclear. Then there is the fear that the technocrats are merely a group of bankers who will place economic interests ahead of social ones.
Berlusconi’s end may be one of the best things that has ever happened to Italy. Maybe.