And again everyone is talking about Silvio Berlusconi. Whatever you think of the 85-year-old Milanese media entrepreneur and four-time Italian prime minister, he has the gift of always putting himself at the center of political events. His villas then turned into the back rooms of the republic, into courts of the Italian right. This time it’s “Villa Grande”, his new home in Rome, out on the Via Appia Antica. There he invited the tops of the legal camp to eat, there was sea bass with artichokes. When Matteo Salvini of the Lega and Giorgia Meloni of the post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia left the villa, a communiqué was published in which the up-and-coming nationalists assured their old patron of their unanimous support in the January 24 presidential election – that’s what Berlusconi finally said decides on this and has the prospect of the necessary votes.
This is a remarkable decision in many ways. First, it shows that the new right still lacks a serious name that would do justice to its claim to the highest office in the state. Because: Berlusconi is of course the exact antithesis of an impartial father of the country, who hovers over everything with wisdom and moderation, as one would expect from the President of the Republic. He has divided the country since entering politics in 1994. Second, the decision shows that Berlusconi is still holding his camp hostage with what one newspaper called his “senile ambition” to become president. Third, the right, which has more weight in the current parliament than the left and the Cinque Stelle, risks squandering its chance with Berlusconi to once again nominate the president. The election of the 1008 big voters – senators, deputies and delegates from the regions – is secret, because anything can happen.
This is exactly where Berlusconi sees his chance. In the first three rounds, in which he is likely to face Prime Minister Mario Draghi, a two-thirds majority is required for the election. It’s unattainable. From the fourth round of voting he would only need an absolute majority, i.e. 505 votes. Alone, the rights bring only 451 votes. And so Berlusconi now spends his days very openly courting votes from the non-attached group, the “Gruppo misto”, the Cinque Stelle and the centrist camp. His resources are almost inexhaustible.
An “obscure operation” is running, writes “La Stampa” – with indecent offers
Big voters who made a call earlier Cavaliers received are now telling the newspapers how he ensnared them. To an amateur actor who was formerly with the Cinque Stelle, he said: “I heard that you are an actor.” That sounds promising from the mouth of the powerful television and film producer. Another deputy said that Berlusconi introduced himself by saying: “Buongiorno, I’m the guy from Bunga Bunga.” Should probably be a joke, an icebreaker for the conversation. Five minutes, then it’s the next turn. His assistants have prepared him well with dozens of cheat sheets containing all sorts of personal data and preferences – and the exact financial circumstances as they are stored in Parliament’s register. It’s all very bizarre.
Salvini and Meloni now want to check in the next few days whether Berlusconi is actually capable of grazing far beyond his garden. A committee with members from all right-wing parties is to be formed for this purpose, which is to find out about the factions. Lega and Fratelli d’Italia apparently do not trust Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. La Stampa writes: “It’s paradoxical: everything stands still until it’s clear whether a candidate who actually doesn’t have enough votes can still somehow mobilize the necessary consensus – by whatever means.” There’s a vote-hunt going on, an obscure operation with offers that, of course, couldn’t be made public.