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Berlusconi Heart

On Thursday in Italy headlines were dominated by the news that Silvio Berlusconi, a former and controversial prime minister, required an urgent heart operation and had risked dying.

Initially, Mr Berlusconi, 79, had been admitted to hospital for what sounded like not much more than a check up. Initially, press reports, this Italy watcher noted, were at pains to stress that the health issue affecting Mr Berlusconi was not life threatening.Attempts appear to be being made to play down the seriousness of the health issue Mr Berlusconi is facing. Except Mr Berlusconi’s condition is more serious than initial press reports claimed. Mr Berlusconi’s personal physician underlined when he reported that his patient had risked death. The same doctor advised that Mr Berlusconi consider retiring from politics.

On Tuesday next week probably, Mr Berlusconi will undergo a 4 hour heart valve replacement operation. A 30 convalescence period will follow and then Mr Berlusconi should be back, if, that is, he decides to ignore his doctor’s orders.

According to press reports here, the heart valve replacement operation carries a 2% mortality rate. Somewhat curiously, this fact was reported by Italy’s press.


Not everyone in Italy wishes Mr Berlusconi a speedy recovery.

Comments on the website of not so establishment friendly Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano range from get well soon messages to ‘hope he recovers and leaves politics’ as well as a few heartless souls announcing that they’ve popped into their local supermarkets for a bottle of decent wine. The insinuation is that the good plonk will be cracked open in the event Mr Berlusconi ends up meeting his maker.

Why Such Venom?

Colorful and controversial, fabulously wealthy, perpetually caught up in court cases, comvicted of tax fraud, and rumored to have benefitited from the support of Italy’s infamous organised crime gangs otherwise known as the mafia, more than a few Italians regard Berlusconi as the primary cause of Italy’s economic, moral and social decline.

Others have been wondering whether old Mr Berlusconi had gone a little too far with his little blue pill fuelled bunga bunga sessions, or whether his harem known as the Olgetine girls will find themselves without their principal client stroke benefactor.

Mr Berlusconi’s eldest daughter, Marina, has accused the members of his Forza Italia party of forcing her father to do too much campaigning during recent local elections. So far, commies have not been blamed for contributing to Mr Berlusconi’s heart condition but it is probably only a matter of time.

What is clear is that Italy’s self declared best prime minister in 150 years and the Jesus Christ of Italian politics is no longer as popular as he once was.

There were, at the time of writing, 65 comments from well wishers under the article about Mr Berlusconi heart operation on the website of Berlusconi family newspaper Il Giornale. Under an article on the same topic on the website of Il Fatto Quotidiano, there are, at the time of writing, nearly 700 comments, many of which are not at all sympathetic.

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Will Berlusconi Retire After His Heart Op?

Who knows? If he survives it, he may, though knowing Silvio Berlusconi his retirement, so to speak, will probably involve a coffin. While everyone waits, the vultures have started gathering.

Members of Mr Berlusconi’s recently resurrected though slowly disintegrating Forza Italia political party are assuming their boss won’t return to politics and are angling for the role of leader. Perhaps this is a case of counting chickens before the eggs have hatched or maybe they know that Mr Berlusconi’s health is far from sound.

Having hear Mr Berlusconi speak recently, one has noticed that his voice is starting to sound weak. Well, this is not much of a surprise seeing as he’s 79.

Should Berlusconi Be Blamed for Italy’s Decline?

In part, yes. Silvio Berlusconi’s leadership of Italy did not do the nation many favours, it has to be said. Mr Berlusconi’s legacy has been far from beneficial.

Today, Italy is in debt up to its eyeballs, the young simply cannot find work, and the economic recovery, though beginning to happen, maybe, is proving fragile. Then there are the many thousands of young Italians who have literally fled Italy in search of better prospects. Few appear to have returned so either Italy is still unappealing or else they have found greener grass elsewhere. Probably a combination of both.

Italy’s political establishment is as unstable as it ever was and riddled with cronyism.

While Mr Berlusconi didn’t really cause Italy’s decline, as premier, it certainly accelerated during his premiership and his governments did very little to prevent it.

In 2011, the debt situation in Italy scared the rest of Europe, and the rest of the world, so much that Mr Berlusconi was more or less kicked out of power. While foreign papers sometimes refer to Silvio Berlusconi as Italy’s disgraced former prime minister, Italy’s generally establishment-friendly press is much more circumspect.

Mr Berlusconi rose to power on the back or crass political mismanagement and not a little corruption – a situation which had initiated Italy’s decline in the 1980’s (- remember Craxi?) and 1990’s (the Bribesville and Clean Hands affairs). Italy needed a savior and that’s precisely how Mr Berlusconi presented himself. The strategy worked perfectly even if it was largely a con trick.

Far from wanting to heal Italy’s many open wounds and prepare the nation’s economy for the future, Mr Berlusconi wanted to be prime minister so he could obtain immunity from prosecution and protect his business interests. While he more or less succeeded in the former, he failed in the latter. The ever tanned media mogul’s businesses are in decline. His TV business Mediaset has been sold off in part and even Mr Berlusconi’s biggest toy, football club AC Milan may be sold off.


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