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Italy

The Return of Il Cavaliere and the Conflict of Interest

By Giuseppe Giulietti

‘Forced to stand again, so many have asked me.’ These were the last words of Silvio Berlusconi, or maybe the penultimate, as is his wont to change his mind in a matter of hours, if not minutes. Yet this time he told the truth, expressing what is always rumbling deep inside him.

So it is quite shocking to hear the amazement, almost the disappointment of those commentators and unfortunately many politicians who still pretend to question the nature of this man. Berlusconi is absolutely predictable if, instead of following the flow of his words, of his slogans, one follows, more simply, the flow of his money and his interests.

Amid the inconstancy of his opinions, even his absolute indifference to opinions, Il Cavaliere also had one fixed objective: the inviolability of his assets, the centrality of his private interests that have been elevated to a general interest, even an ‘institutional question.’ when the former prime minister sought to change the law and the Constitution to suit his legal requirements.

From the literary point of view the character whom he most resembles is master Don Gesualdo, obsessed with ‘stuff’, which is elevated to the divine and for which everything must be sacrificed, even people’s dignity.

Berlusconi’s probably realized that his employees are no longer able to protect him, to ensure the constant supervision to protect the ‘body of the boss’, and perhaps he realized that some of them were really going to bid him farewell, taking seriously the idea of building a presentable right wing political force, vaguely resembling those elsewhere in Europe.

While he remains in charge though, this dream will not be realized, because Berlusconi is not remotely interested in the European Right, much less in populism or any other category of politics, because the conflict of interest that was the driving force of Forza Italia, now is a noose around the neck of the movement, because the priorities of the owner of the party no longer coincide – also because of his advanced years – with those of his court.

In addition, his businesses, as in 1994 [when he entered politics], are going through a period of crisis following the defeat in court against the hated Carlo De Benedetti.

Since Berlusconi pays for everything, with his money and his media, he’ll decide, and anyone in his court who seeks to conspire against him will be defeated, because you cannot move from an absolute monarchy to democracy without the consent of the owner of the company and the party. You cannot regain freedom without paying a heavy price. Will his long time courtiers be able to commit ‘Patricide’? It has to be doubted.

Perhaps in the end the empire will disintegrate, but among all the participants, at least for now, Il Cavaliere will be saved, perhaps weaker, but certainly in a more solid position than his fellow conspirators, and with his loyal troops he will sit in the next Parliament, to protect his interests, the goal of yesterday, and tomorrow.

It is no coincidence that the recent appointments in [state broadcaster] Rai carry his paw prints, because, once again, he is preparing to play his game across the media which, despite the Monti government, remains firmly is in his grip – both Rai and [his own private empire] Mediaset .

He definitely won’t win, but he will certainly give a hard time to everyone and try to pollute the wells of democratic debate.

Those who think that the case is closed and that Berlusconi is really thinking of throwing in the towel are mistaken.

For matters of ownership, even before political questions, only his daughter Marina can collect his inheritance, because the maintenance of the conflict of interest has always been, and remains the heart of his project and his politics.

For this reason his opponents, however organized, and under whatever coalition, whatever flag, would do well to place as a central promise in their manifestos, the resolution of the conflict of interest, which is an authentic metastases that has eroded public and private ethics and has deeply polluted the democratic order.

For now, the theme, as always, does not seem to be the priority of the first 100 days of the different political families of the center-left. Will it even be in the first 1000 days?

December 6, 2012 

Micromega

Edited/Translated by Revolting Europe

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About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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