Who is Silvio Berlusconi?, the newspaper “Il Giornale”, owned by the tycoon’s family, recently asked in a full-page advertisement in which it listed twenty alleged political, business, family and sports achievements of the leader of Forza Italia. Among other things, Silvio Berlusconi is for his staunchest defenders “a good and kind person”; “the hero of freedom who entered politics in 1994 to avoid an authoritarian regime and illiberal”; “the founder of commercial television in Europe” and “the most competent Italian in international politics”. The self-aggrandizement goes so far as to define him as “the president who put an end to the Cold War.”
The advertisement – presumably financed by a group of party militants – makes no explicit reference to his candidacy as the next president of the Republic, a desire that the former Cavaliere no longer hides. Berlusconi has been in the political front line for almost 30 years and With just turned 85, he is reluctant to leave the command of Forza Italia, the party he founded in the early 1990s, and with which he went from successful businessman to prime minister of the country. After overcoming the coronavirus, several open heart operations, a conviction for tax fraud and an endless list of sex scandals, the tycoon aspires to culminate his political career at the head of the highest institution of the State.
The media campaign to replace from February Sergio Mattarella It began months ago, although it was not until this Friday that the leader of Forza Italia formally announced to his partners his intention to become the next tenant of the Quirinal Palace. An unusual step forward, since never before had a possible candidate openly expressed his willingness to stand for election.
The vote, which will start on January 24 in the Chamber of Deputies, is expected to be one of the most uncertain in recent years. The first Minister, mario draghi, recently left the door open to succeed Mattarella if the parliamentary majority supported by his government supports his candidacy. However, Berlusconi threatened to withdraw support for the unity government if the former ECB president became his rival in the race for the presidency. A hypothesis that would leave the Executive very weakened and could precipitate the call for early elections.
Before taking a step forward, the Forza Italia leader had to convince his center-right allies, Matteo Salvini Y Giorgia Meloni, whom he gathered in his Roman residence to begin to draw up the strategy. Berlusconi “is the right figure to hold office in this difficult situation with the authority and experience that the country deserves,” they settled in a joint note after the meeting, officially supporting his candidacy.
The conservative coalition theoretically has about 450 votes, but he lacks half a hundred to overcome the ‘quorum’ in the fourth vote, although from Forza Italia they aspire to achieve some extra support to prevent the so-called ‘snipers’, parliamentarians who change their vote ignoring party discipline, from wrecking the election. “The center-right is united on the candidacy of Silvio Berlusconi,” the leader of the League announced the day before. “We will not accept center-left vetoes,” he added, in response to Enrico Letta’s Democratic Party’s refusal to negotiate a consensus candidate until Berlusconi’s name is off the list.
The race to the Quirinal is full of obstacles for the former Cavaliere, but the former three-time prime minister has already begun to play his cards. In Italy they have baptized her “operation squirrel”, which is nothing more than a wild ‘signing’ campaign, like when the politician sat in the grandstand of AC Milan, the soccer team of which he was president for 35 years. According to the local press, the leader of Forza Italia has been personally calling senators and deputies for weeks alien to the center-right to try to seduce them with promises or even gifts as works of art. The scenario is most favorable for him, since from the next legislature, Parliament will reduce a third of the seats, which means that about 300 of the current parliamentarians will not be re-elected. And more than one needs to ensure a future outside the hemicycle.
In aid of the tycoon could also come matthew renzand who with its 43 “big voters” it could end up being decisive. In 2015, the leader of Italia Viva, then head of the government, agreed with Berlusconi to elect former Prime Minister Giuliano Amato as head of state. But on the fourth ballot, Renzi betrayed the agreement and got Parliament to elect Sergio Mattarella, Berlusconi’s historical enemy to the point that he even resigned as minister in 1990 in protest at an audiovisual law that favored the businessman’s media conglomerate. Seven years later, the unpredictable Italian politics could give a new blow and place the old leader of Forza Italia as a substitute for the current head of state