The laughing cavalier
Italy is close to election day. Berlusca-the-clown is seeking re-election, and spends a lot of his time to convince the electorate of the preciousness of the achievements of his government...Achievements?
Here goes the sunday profile of the Independent, dedicated to Mr. Berlusca. It is a concise, lucid, terrifying and very real illustration of what B. achieved in the last 5 years.
"Mr Berlusconi's most impressive achievement in five years is to have entrenched the rule of anti-law. The common man in Italy is up against a state that is ferociously, mindlessly bureaucratic and bizarrely incompetent. Any routine task is beset with a forest of rules and obligations, and yet it takes only guile and know-how (and connections) to get things done informally without the state being any the wiser.
A real reforming government would set as its urgent priority modernising the way the state operates so it was more responsive to the citizens' needs and more efficient. It would do the same with the appalling justice system, designed by a malevolent surrealist.
Mr Berlusconi has always been on the side of the artful dodgers, dedicated to making the life of the tax evader, the mafioso and other criminals less stressful and more profitable. One of his first legislative acts was to decriminalise false accounting. He made money laundering harder to trace. He offered amnesties to tax dodgers and illegal builders. He relentlessly insulted the judiciary, and helped defendants move their trials to other cities if they proved the judge was biased against them.
One of his most recent acts was to slash the length of white-collar trials, so thousands of people accused of such crimes, himself foremost, woulddodge justice. Despite all the hoopla last week, it is highly unlikely that either Mr Berlusconi or David Mills will ever be found either guilty or not guilty of the crimes of which they are accused. Those will simply be "extinguished".
Mr Berlusconi has achieved a sort of revolution. His critics blame him for enacting laws to his own advantage, but this has not damaged him electorally because millions of ordinary Italians are equally gleeful at seeing the state become more cumbersome, more indulgent, less vigilant, less capable of fulfilling its duties. If re-elected, he promises to bring his "reform" of the justice system to a conclusion, its total emasculation."