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The Mummy Returns

February 2002: Silvio Berlusconi, then Italian prime minister, makes the hand gesture of horns during a summit of EU leaders [personal archive]

A specter is haunting Europe, the specter of Silvio Berlusconi. The 82-old Italian politician will run at the next European elections, he personally announced on Thursday (17 January). Those who may be surprised should know that Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy from 1994 to 2011, has never really left the national political scene.

Europe mistakenly thought the Berlusconi era was over once and for all, although at the general elections in March last year there were wishes all across the continent for a victory of his party as better option than what ultimately happened: a coalition between Matteo Salvini’s League and Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement (M5S).

Real enemy are M5S, communists-in-style evil

Berlusconi wants to kick out the Five Stars, his personal top enemies. “There is a need to change this government, partially represented by M5S people, with no experience and no skills”, the president of the political party Forza Italia (FI) hammered out. He compared the M5S people as “just like those gentlemen from communist left-wing”, adding that on the top, they were incompetent.

A new government with Salvini on the horizon?

The political project behind Berlusconi’s decision to run for MEP might be a political earthquake in Italy. It looks like Salvini will be the real winner of the upcoming European elections. If Forza Italia will be able to score well, the two parties together could be in the position of having the needed majority for governing together.

According to the former prime minister, the current coalition has no potential to stick together. “The center-right front will be soon united again”, Berlusconi stated. “The one between the League and Five Stars is an unnatural alliance, and I don’t believe it has so much life left. They reached a deal just for acceding to power”.

Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini were in the same center-right coalition when general election took place in Italy last March. Together they were able to get the 37% of the votes, not enough to win the majority in Parliament. Alliances were thus needed, but Berlusconi didn’t want any alliance with M5S, and the same applied for M5S. The League then decided then to break the coalition and seek its own way to accede to power.

Silvio Berlusconi has benefited for a long time of his popularity among the Italians. It is possible that because of his personality his force would get some extra votes. There are also voters who supported M5S in March, but were later disappointed by the Movement. So everything is possible. Even a new beginning for the traditional center-right coalition.

Liberal ideas?

Berlusconi says Europe and democracy need him. “We represent the liberal idea of politics and the liberal values, to be defended in Italy, in Europe and worldwide”, the FI chief stressed today. “I decided to run for the European elections, stand for a Europe which has to be reformed, which has to be united, with a single defence in order to have its place at the table with the world powers”.

Berlusconi is well known for his personal ideas about democracy, characterized by repeated attacks against the judicial power. During his golden period, meaning the time when he was in power, Berlusconi blamed all the newspapers carrying critical articles about his person. Furthermore, he delegitimized judges because of their activities; he was able to approve legislative proposals to block criminal trials for some of the highest state officials.

Democracy of the personality is the model the 82-years old man from Italy has in mind. It is not by chance if the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban is one of Berlusconi’s best friend in Europe. What they have in common, when it comes to politics, is a distorted idea of democracy. So, why should Europe need Berlusconi?

Pranks and escapades

Berlusconi is well remembered in the EU for his pranks and escapades. He has been always capable of cracking jokes in solemn occasions; he has screamed at Buckingham Palace, to the astonishment of her majesty Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. In 2003, when Italy held the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, Berlusconi said that Martin Schulz was looking as a Nazi concentration camp guard, entering in an open clash with the entire European Parliament. 

In 2011, in his last appearance at the European Council meeting, Berlusconi was captured by the internal cameras while admiring the lower back part of the Danish prime minister of that time, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. And what about Angela Merkel? He always denied, but apparently he was able to express not-gentle opinion about the German chancellor.

If Berlusconi is the best Italy can offer, too bad for Europe.

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