Monday, January 24, 2011

He must wear bullet proof pants

I reckon, being the prime minister or president of a country, is the hardest job in the world. As you sweep to power it must seem that all the country is behind you but then a year or so on things often start to go sour. When you can’t fulfil all the promises that were made before the election, the voters start to turn on you. Even the highly charismatic Barack Obama has suffered from this type of post election blues.

If you then add scandal into the equation, things must be a whole lot worse. Take Silvio Berlusconi for example. He is formally suspected of paying an underage prostitute and trying to cover it up by exerting pressure on the police. Prosecutors say the nightclub dancer, Karima "Ruby" el-Mahroug, who was 17 at the time, visited Berlusconi eight times at his villa, near Milan, last year. Both Berlusconi and the girl deny that sex took place but the police have taped phone calls which claim otherwise. I mean come on, nobody in their right mind would believe they stayed up all night playing cards or watching late night TV.

There is apparently plenty of evidence that the so called “bunga bunga” parties were a regular event at the Prime Minister’s Milan mansion. These have been variously described as unimaginable orgies even though one of the girls involved has described them as innocent dinner parties where they discussed politics and other topics of interest. However, as sordid as these parties might have been, they would not be illegal. No, the whole case against the PM rests on pinning down the fact that Berlusconi paid for sex with a minor and tried to cover it up. Both of these offences would earn the 74 year old time in jail.

You would imagine that all  this scandal surrounding Berlusconi would turn the whole of Italy against him but no.  A poll published by Corriere della Sera found backing for his Freedom People movement was higher than a month earlier, and less than half of Italians believed he should resign.

Renato Mannheimer, the head of the company that conducted the poll, said "even the Catholic electorate ... does not appear to have significantly altered its preferences". For the first time, the number of Italians favouring Berlusconi's resignation exceeded the number who opposed it, but they represented only 49% of the electorate.

How on earth can this be?  Even a lowly back bencher in the British parliament would be forced to resign for a whole lot less. If the Prime Minister was involved in similar sex scandals, then he would be taken to the Tower of London!  The only conclusion you can draw is that there is no credible alternative in Italian politics that the electorate are prepared to show faith in. Just to think, we considered Italy as an alternative place to retire to!

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