Feature

Italy: Haunted by a zombie Berlusconi

For one blessed year, Italy was free of the buffoonery of Silvio Berlusconi. Now he is back.

Antonio PolitoCorriere della Sera

“The world is watching in disbelief,” said Antonio Polito. For one blessed year, Italy was free of the bluster and buffoonery of Silvio Berlusconi, the man who nearly led us to economic ruin. But now he is back, like a zombie rising from the grave. France’s Libération actually put him on its front page with the headline, “The Mummy Returns.” Last week, Berlusconi’s party withdrew its support from the government of Mario Monti, the technocrat who wrestled Italy out of its nosedive, though not yet out of turbulence. In an act of breathtaking gall, Berlusconi blamed Monti and the euro for all our economic woes and said he alone could restore Italy’s standing. Monti, of course, had no choice but to announce that he would resign once the 2013 budget passes, and now Italy faces early elections, scheduled for February. So much for our country’s onetime chance to stabilize under a leadership that was appointed by the president, not elected by the fractious and fickle populace. Our only hope now is that Monti, known as il Professore, will choose to run against the populist billionaire, hailed by his supporters as il Cavaliere. That would give Italy a clear choice between pro-European prudence and anti-European profligacy.

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