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Is Berlusconi to Run in the Rome Marathon?

Today, and I caught it, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi held a press conference at which he neatly laid the blame for the election mess upon the shoulders of others.

At the same time, Berlusconi attempted to put an end, once and for all, to all the confusion surrounding the election muddle in Rome.  Only the attempt seems to have led to further confusion.

During said press conference, during which, incidentally, Italy’s defence minister manhandled a journalist who insisted on asking Mr B about the recent Bertolaso bribery case, Berlusconi gave his party’s official version of events surrounding the presentation of election documents in Rome by his candidate, Renata Polverini.

Yesterday, Polverini’s candidacy had been rejected once more, this time by a Rome court which examined the case.  The court held that, firstly, the government issued interpretative ‘save the election’ decree was not applicable, and secondly, at the end of the day, Polverini’s team simply turned up too late for her documents to be properly registered.

Apparently though, the press and the judges have got it all wrong.  Berlusconi’s party’s left hand did know what the right hand was doing, it was another, left (commie), hand which did the bungling – the papers did not arrive late, even if every one else thinks, or reported, that they did. In support of his claim, Berlusconi gave a blow by blow account of what happened during the presentation of the Polverini documents, and used it to shove the blame firmly onto the shoulders of the bureaucrats who handled the papers.

We can only hope, vainly probably, that now Berlusconi has first hand experience of Italian red-tape, he might get round to doing something about it.

From Confused to Befuddled

Despite the attempt to resolve the confusion, observers, like this here blogger, stand as confused as ever.

Were the documents delivered on time, or were they late?  In stating that the documents arrived too late, the Italian press got hold of the wrong end of the stick in Berlusconi’s eyes.  How can the Italian press, much of which is run by Berlusconi, have got their facts so wrong?

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If Berlusconi’s version of events is the right one, why then was it necessary for Berlusconi’s people to produce a funny little ‘interpretative decree’ mini-law?  This ‘mend the mess’ law was designed to persuade the administrative courts of Rome and Milan to re-admit Berlusconi candidates.

While the court in Milan did readmit the Berlusconi candidate, the court in Rome agreed that the initial rejection of Rome candidate Renata Polverini’s papers was legitimate.  Why, if the documents were delivered on time, did the Rome court not confirm Polverini’s candidacy?   Surely if the documents arrived in time, the court would have said so, and the matter would have ended there.

One might also suggest that maybe it was not such a great idea to try to register important electoral papers at the very last moment.  Berlusconi’s party obviously had not heard of ‘Murphy’s Law’.  Or maybe they had, and wanted to stir up a little controversy to divert attention away from other scandals…

If the whole thing is merely a tempest in a teacup, why all the fuss?


The Italian opposition parties reactions to Berlusconi’s claims have ranged from stating that Berlusconi’s version of events is pure fantasy (Bersani), to labelling Berlusconi as the devil incarnate (Di Pietro)!

Then there is the march.

The March March

To counter the street protests organised by opposition parties to complain about the handling of the election paper mess and the ‘interpretative decree’, Berlusconi has called on his own party faithful to take to the streets.  Only during his press conference, Berlusconi mentioned the 20th March as the date of the march, but now, confusingly, the 21st March is being mentioned as the date when Berlusconi supporters are expected to march through the Rome piazzas in support of their leader.  Although, from what I’ve understood, something similar will be held on the 20th anyway.  Even Berlusconi supporters might admit to being a little confused by the two March marches.

At both of these rallies, Berlusconi’s number two, Gianfranco Fini, will be conspicuous by his absence.  When questioned on this by Italy’s rumour mongering press, Fini remained rather cagey as to why he’s not going to turn up along with the other party faithful.  This sends out a confusing message, in that if all of what Berlusconi has been saying is true, why won’t Fini offer his support?

Rome March or Marathon?

Then we come to the other ever so slightly confusing fly in the increasingly opaque ointment.   On the 21st March there is the Rome marathon.  Holding a political rally in the midst of marathon confusion is probably not the best of ideas.  Unless, of course, Berlusconi is to run in the Rome marathon!

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