Silvio Berlusconi is not a man. Silvio Berlusconi is rather the embodiment of an entire national character. Silvio Berlusconi is the apex of a corrupt phenomenon that has shaped Italy since the end of World War 2. Silvio Berlusconi is a living stereotype. He is the living stereotype of the dark side of Italy: behind the beauties of a country that once led the history of Europe, you can find his empire, half-hidden by the shadows of power, money and women.
Berlusconi’s numbers are impressive
- He has been Prime Minister of the Italian Republic 4 times;
- He is the proprietor or owns stakes of more than 300 companies. Among them he owns 3 TV channels and a football club. Despite what people say he doesn’t own newspapers. Instead, his brother does. ( but do you really think this makes any difference?)
- He is the 3rd richest man in Italy and the 74th in the world.
- He has been tried 20 times but always been acquitted (thanks to bribery and unconstitutional laws passed by his governments)
- He has been the best Italian Prime Minister of the last 150 years (this figure was gently offered by Mr. Berlusconi himself).
As you consider these figures you ask yourself how he can represent the Italian people, the poor and unemployed, for instance. Why do so many Italians love him or, in other words, why have the Italians voted for him 4 times?
There’s a first explanation, a practical one. Even before 1994 Berlusconi had developed his own system of power, a sort of country within the country. Over the last 16 years several trials have shown his relations with the Mafia. For instance, the birth of his party was encouraged by the Sicilian Mafia that ensured the success of Mr. Berlusconi in 1994. Another source of power is Mr. Berlusconi’s control of the media. People’s minds are literally manipulated, reality is distorted. Like in Orwell’s Air Strip One, in Berlusconi’s Italy ignorance turns into knowledge.
But there’s a second explanation, a bitter one. Among his supporters there are many people who truly love him. They love him because Berlusconi represents everything the average Italian would like to be. Berlusconi has power, money, a football club and women. (I haven’t mentioned newspapers because these people don’t like to read and that kind of stuff). Therefore they simply don’t care if Berlusconi is a criminal or not: “non è un fesso” “he’s not a stupid”, they say.
This is the real trouble of my people: individualism, the only national institution Mr. Berlusconi seems willing to obey.