In legislation hastily passed on Christmas Eve in Italy, a person, or persons unknown, slipped in a clause which could permit tax fraud convict and former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi’s return to the center stage of politics in Italy. A Christmas present?
Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano noticed the suspiciously friendly clause which had been added at the very last minute and worked out that it might well be used to help extinguish Berlusconi’s tax fraud conviction thus annulling his expulsion from Italy’s senate and ban on standing for election or holding public office.
The revelation generated much consternation and dominated the Sunday news in Italy. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was forced to make a statement to clarify the issue. Mr Renzi denied that there had been any direct attempt to revive Silvio Berlusconi’s flagging political career and claimed that the save Silvio clause would be removed – except it might not be.
Who slipped in the save Silvio clause at the last minute? That’s what everyone wanted to know and today, after keeping silent on the matter, Mr Renzi decided to admit that the innocuous-looking little amendment was added at his behest.
This admission raises suspicions that the Nazareno pact which exists between Mr Renzi and Mr Berlusconi contains a promise by Mr Renzi to do all in his power to save Mr Berlusconi. The save Silvio clause would appear to suggest that such a promise exists.
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Why would the leader of a supposedly left-leaning political party want to help out the leader of a major right-leaning party? Well, some the members of Mr Renzi’s own party would like to know as would those who vote for what passes for Italy’s left. Curiously, nobody in Mr Renzi’s party noticed the save Silvio clause, or if they did, they kept very quiet about it.
The real reason for this underhand political manoeuvre is probably to ensure that Silvio Berlusconi’s people play along with Mr Renzi’s reform plans for Italy. Furthermore, the favor would smooth the way towards the election of a new president for Italy as Mr Renzi could count on the votes of those in Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party. All very Machiavellian, but such is Italian politics.
So far, and somewhat surprisingly, it’s looking as if Mr Renzi will sail through the save Silvio storm unscathed.
Once upon a time, Silvio Berlusconi had to rely on his own people, including, conveniently, lawyer-parliamentarians who also just happen to be on his legal defense team, to sneak through personally beneficial legislation. No more, it seems. Now the leader of the opposition appears to be happy to help him out.
Will Silvio Berlusconi actually manage to reenter politics in Italy? No one really knows though some do think it’s still possible and if he does so, it may well be thanks to the helping hand of opposition leader Matteo Renzi.
Other save Silvio clauses may come to light or may be included in upcoming ‘reforms’ even if it is now clear what Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is up to. At least Il Fatto Quotidiano will be keeping an eye on Mr Renzi and any legislation he passes very carefully.