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Berlusconi Battles on With Italy Blackmail Attempt

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Convict Silvio Berlusconi is still hitting Italy’s headlines virtually daily. There are still no signs that he intends to call off his attempt into blackmailing Italy into quashing his conviction for tax fraud and setting up huge slush funds.

After a summit at Berlusconi’s bunga bunga central manor on the edge of Milan, PdL party member Angelino Alfano stated that banning Berlusconi from Italy’s parliament was both unthinkable and constitutionally unacceptable. Others would argue the opposite, indeed, it is unthinkable and constitutionally unacceptable that a former prime minister and party leader who has been convicted of tax fraud and faces a slew of other serious charges, should remain a key personality in Italian politics.

The wishy washy statement by Alfano indicates that attempts to find save Silvio solutions are hitting dead ends.

A vote to be held in early September, around the 9th, will decide whether Berlusconi is to be allowed to keep his seat in Italy’s senate – yes, as Silvio Berlusconi is an elected politician, this entitles him to a fourth degree of justice after all three degrees of Italy’s court system agreed that Berlusconi was guilty. What is not clear is whether Italy’s government will survive until September. It may end this week.

Berlusconi, despite the findings of all three courts, is continuing to protest his innocence and he and his party believe that ‘normal’ rules should not apply to Berlusconi because he represents around 7 million Italians. Italy’s laws do not make provision for such exceptions, but Berlusconi and his loyalists believe it should.

The Italian law which renders convicted parliamentarians and other politicians in Italy ineligible to stand for election is, in the opinion of Berlusconi’s brethren, unconstitutional, though the grounds for the law being unconstitutional only seem to be that the so-called Severino law applies to Silvio Berlusconi. Up to now, a number of politicians have been declared ineligible to stand for re-election under the terms of the law – none of those facing the ban has made noises on the constitutional validity of the Severino law, up to now, that is.

Berlusconi may be given an opportunity to explain just why the law which will render him ineligible to stand for election should not be applied to him.

Be Nice to Berlusconi

With regard to the ‘fourth’ grade of justice vote to remove Berlusconi from Italy’s senate, his people have appealed to Italy’s left not to be prejudiced in the face of their master. The numbers are against Berlusconi, so the vote may well go against him.

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For now, the response to Berlusconi’s request for everyone to be nice to him has been that Italy’s law will be applied. If this does actually happen, Berlusconi will be kicked out of Italy’s senate. This being Italy, on the run up to this vote, anything can and probably will happen, so until the vote has been held, whether or not Berlusconi will stay or go, simply cannot be known.

In the event the vote is held, should Berlusconi be booted out of Italy’s parliament, the fun will really start because Berlusconi’s party say they will drop all support for Italy’s current coalition government. As noted previously, this withdrawal of support may come this week.

Elections? Maybe, but not Immediately.

Sooner or maybe a little later, Italy will end up without a government which means elections will be called, only this may not happen immediately because Italy’s president will allow other parties in Italy’s parliament to attempt to form a coalition if only for long enough to reform Italy’s electoral law. This will mean that Berlusconi’s blackmail attempt will only be a partial success, even if bringing down Italy’s government will waste time Italy can ill afford. Public debt is still spiralling out of control, businesses are still in great difficulty and may Italians are without jobs. Berlusconi’s blackmail antics could worsen an already bad situation. This though, does not seem to worry Berlusconi and his gang at all, at least on the face of it.

Today, Berlusconi told his people to stop talking about a rift in his party. The support for attempting to save Silvio even at the cost of bringing down Italy’s government does not appeal to all those in the PdL party, it appears. This indicates that even if Berlusconi does bring down Italy’s government, this won’t necessarily save him from being kicked out of Italy’s parliament – he will be aware of this, though it would function as a way to play for time – at Italy’s expense.

Government Collapse Imminent?

What could also happen is that Italy’s government could be brought down before the vote on Berlusconi’s parliamentary future takes place. Actually, the government could fall this Wednesday when Italy’s parliament votes on the IMU property tax issue. Berlusconi and his mob want the tax more or less eliminated, whereas non-Berlusconi elements in Italy’s parliament don’t think this would be healthy for indebted Italy’s future.

For now though, and as ably noted by Italy-resident author Tim Parks in a recent post for the New York Review of Books, the ridiculous situation of convict Berlusconi holding Italy hostage continues to exist. Such is Italy, alas.

Will Fiat soon announce it is to leave Italy? Probably. If this does happen, it’ll be down in great part to the antics of convict Silvio Berlusconi who initially claimed his legal tangles would not be used as a lever to save his political career. Berlusconi’s promises have never been worth much more than used toilet paper.

Keep an eye on Italy this coming Wednesday.

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