fter dominating Italian politics for 17 years, Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign as prime minister on Saturday. Italy has piled up $2.6 trillion in sovereign debt — an incredible 130 percent of the nation's gross domestic product of $2 trillion — and Berlusconi's government crumbled when it failed to pull the country back from the brink of financial disaster. After resigning, the 75-year-old media magnate was jeered by angry crowds who hurled coins at his limousine and called him a clown. Still, Berlusconi has rebounded before from innumerable political setbacks, corruption charges, and sex scandals. Is his political career truly over?
Silvio is really and truly done: Berlusconi is lucky he wasn't "led out of office in handcuffs," says Alex Fusco at Britain's Independent. For years, the "undisputed clown of international politics" dodged corruption convictions and somehow emerged unscathed from one sex scandal after another. But letting Italy slide "into the abyss" of fiscal crisis has discredited Berlusconi with "politicians from all sides." There's no future in Italian government for him.
"Berlusconi is gone — but not in the manner we anticipated"
Don't count Berlusconi out yet: A new coalition government is forming under ex-European Union commissioner Mario Monti, says Aaron Goldstein at The American Spectator. But even in the best of times, Italian governments rarely last more than a year or two, and Monti probably won't make it that long. Since World War II ended, Italy has had an incredible 60 coalition governments. Under such fluid circumstances, it would "come as no shock" if Berlusconi winds up back in power somehow.
"Berlusconi will be back"
He's only leaving office — not power: Berlusconi isn't going to disappear, says David Dayen at Firedoglake. He's going "from being prime minister to just being Rupert Murdoch, in control of most of the media Italians see." He'll still be around, steering public opinion and "wielding influence behind the scenes," whether he comes back to life politically or not.
"An elegy for Berlusconi, the man who ruined Italy (again)"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Sorry Belle Knox, porn still oppresses women
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- Watch The Daily Show mock Fox News' confused man-crush on Vladimir Putin
- Why is American internet so slow?
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Why states should stop limiting the alcohol content in your beer
- Religious liberty should be a liberal value, too
Subscribe to the Week