THE PREMIER SILVIO BERLUSCONI
Italy, Parliament and European debt crisis.
Yesterday the PM Silvio Berlusconi promised to resign after a humiliating vote in Parliament. Some of his key ally just gave up, by voting against in the lower house of parliament, so the coalition government brought down and Berlusconi lost the majority. In the meanwhile the austerity measures and structural reforms will go ahead and then the President of the Repubblic, Giorgio Napolitano, will have to propose a provisioning government.
Il Cavaliere (the cavalier), as the Prime Minister is nicknamed in Italy, would therefore remain in power to oversee the passing of the “Stability Bill,” and then would tender his resignation to President Napolitano. Parliament is expected to vote on the measures next week.
Opposition leader Pierluigi Bersani of the PD party had taken the floor to ask Berlusconi directly to quit, while Umberto Bossi, his ally and head of the Northern League, asked the Prime Minister to step aside and make way for Angelino Alfano, secretary of Berlusconi’s own PDL party.
Probably, the Cavalier has become famous throughout the world for about sarcasm and his gaffes.
The high regard for himself has led him to compare himself, at different times, to Jesus Christ, Napoleon and a saint, and while his frequent jokes and digs brought smiles to his supporters, his gaffe-prone or blunders speeches often caused global consternation during his last presidential term of office.
What follows is a list of the most famous Berlusconi gaffe-prone and blunders, surely the first PM become a YouTube hit for a lot of footages.
1 Caused a political row at the start of Italy’s EU presidency by referring to a German MEP, Martin Schulz, “I know that in Italy there is a man producing a film on Nazi concentration camps – I shall put you forward for the role of Kapo (a guard chosen from among the prisoners) – you would be perfect.”
2 Offended China by declaring: “Read the black book of Communism and you will discover that in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilise the fields.”
3 He advised investors in New York to relocate to Italy because the secretaries were better looking than their American counterparts. “Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries… superb girls.” He also told the New York stock exchange: “Italy is now a great country to invest in… today we have fewer communists and those who are still there deny having been one.”
4 During a group photo of EU leaders in 2002 he made the Italian horned “cuckold” gesture with his hand behind the head of the Spanish foreign minister, suggesting he was being cuckolded.
5 Silvio Berlusconi missed a symbolic NATO photo and a ceremony for fallen soldiers because he was too busy talking on his mobile phone.
6 The self-made billionaire said his response to the global economic crisis was different to that of President Obama because “I’m paler”. “I’m paler because it’s been so long since I went sunbathing. He’s more handsome, younger and taller,” said the media mogul. Also accused of being racist, or at least gauche, in November 2008 when he hailed then President-elect Obama as “handsome, young and also suntanned”.
7 He caused Italian outrage by saying that although he was considering deploying 30,000 troops to Italy’s cities, there would never be enough soldiers to protect Italy’s many “beautiful girls” from rape.
8 Relations between Rome and Berlin would have been further strained after it was reported he referred to chancellor Angela Merkel an “unfuckable lard-arse”, in a telephone conversation with a newspaper editor. Recorded in a tapped telephone call: “They can tap my telephone calls. I don’t give a fuck … I’m getting out to mind my own fucking business, from somewhere else, and so I’m leaving this shitty country, of which I’m sickened.”
9 Boasted that he had had to “dust off my playboy charms” to convince Finland’s female prime minister, Tarja Halonen, to set up the EU Food Safety Authority in Parma (Italy), rather than in Finland. Added the observation that: “Parma is synonymous with good cuisine. The Finns don’t even know what prosciutto is.”
10 His response to the sex scandal allegations became a scandal itself because the philandering affirmed: “As always, I work without interruption and if occasionally I happen to look a beautiful girl in the face, it’s better to like beautiful girls than to be gay”. The term “Bunga-Bunga” swept the nation after a series of women alleged Berlusconi had “sex parties”.
11 On the plight of victims of the Abruzzo earthquake: “Of course, their current lodgings are a bit temporary. But they should see it like a weekend of camping.”
12 On his sexual appetite: “Last night I had a queue outside the door of the bedroom. There were 11 … I only did eight because I could not do it anymore”. “But this morning I feel great, I’m pleased with my stamina”.
13 On allegations that he entertained prostitutes at his villa: “Even though I am a little mischievous … 33 girls in two months seems like too much even for a 30-year-old.”
14 During a G20 photocall at Buckingham Palace, Berlusconi offended the Queen who was heard asking “why does he have to shout?”.
15 “Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini sent people on holiday in (internal) exile,” Berlusconi tells Britain’s Spectator magazine, replying “yes” when asked if he thought the World War Two dictator was “benign”.
16 On balding, “I have little hair because my brain is so big it pushes the hair out”.
17 With regard to the crisis and the media who report the increase in poverty and income too low Berlusconi comments on the state of Italy’s economy was, “Life in Italy is life in a prosperous country. We see that on every occasion, consumption has not gone down, the restaurants are full, you have trouble booking seats on airplanes, holiday areas are totally booked out on long weekends. I don’t think that if you went to live in Italy that Italy is feeling anything that could resemble a serious crisis.”
18 In remarks to party deputies in parliament, Berlusconi suggests his ruling PDL party should rename itself “Forza Gnocca!,” (which translates as “Go Pussy” or “Go Crumpet”), a play on the name of his original Forza Italia! (Go Italy!) party, using a slang term for female genitals.
19 “Only Napoleon did more than I have done”, he tells a TV talk show.
20 “One citizen is equal to another (in the eyes of the law) but perhaps this one is slightly more equal than the others, given that 50 percent of Italians have given him the responsibility of governing the country,” he said, referring to himself, during an appearance at his corruption trial in Milan.
21 “The most keen can certainly find a second job, maybe unofficial,” Berlusconi says, encouraging laid-off Fiat workers to seek employment on the black market.
22 On how tough it is to be a billionaire: “In absolute terms, I am the most legally persecuted man of all times, in the whole history of mankind, worldwide”.
We all are asking ourselves now, will be Italy better off with or without Berlusconi?
During his government, certainly some good law was passed, but – apart from the recent global crisis – many social achievements obtained in the past, after long years of labor struggles, have been eliminated inexorably, dividing further Italy into two, North on a side and South on the other. As usual, the employees have been the most harassed category in recent years.
I think that Italy will resume only when the policy will be no longer a profession. Most of our politicians, who over the years have made a political career trying to advance, they did it because not with the wish to contribute selflessly to their country, but to get a “chair” that guarantees privileges and wealth. In Italy there are good laws indeed, perhaps too many, but everyone who governs “brings grist to own mill” and legislates according to his own private interests, first of all. The fact that in Italy there are too many posts, too many parties and too many politicians, including many ignorant and ill-prepared, let us understand that politics is not a mission, but only a business not devoted to the selfless sacrifice, just a lucrative job. At each annual Financial Bill, the government asks citizens to make sacrifices, but the first to be exempted are just MPs and senators while they, on the contrary, should lead by example. And in the meantime, the ruling class, industrialists and big traders think about their business only, avoiding any participation, albeit modest, implying an economic sacrifice. It is well-known that in young people no longer exists a nationalistic spirit, safeguard and foresight, but the fault is mainly of politicians in which, for first, these basic idealisms are lacking, and for a long time!