Italians rejoice at Berlusconi’s demise, but joy is marred by fear of cuts to come

“Victory in Italy Day” as some are calling it, saw celebrations spring up across the country. In Rome delirious crowds chucked coins at an outgoing premier, just as people had done to the disgraced former Prime Minister – and Berlusconi patron – Bettino Craxi 25 years ago.

But in Silvio Berlusconi’s home town of Milan there was no one to throw them at, so a good natured crowd, gathered in front of the Duomo and cracked open the prosecco instead.

One of the revellers, shop worker Annalisa Mastura, 46, noted with the economy shot, not many people had money to waste. “And anyway we’ve already thrown a statue of the Duomo at him,” she said in reference to the attack in 2009 which saw the tycoon hospitalised.

If Mr Berlusconi, 75, was hoping for an outpouring of sympathy on his home turf he may have been disappointed. But probably not surprised. His inept, scandalous third term in office saw even Milan, his political heartland, fall to the left in this year’s mayoral elections,

Instead it was left to his Milanese media cronies to provide the generous epithets. Emilio Fede, the newsreader on Mr Berlusconi’s Mediaset TG4 news show gushed his employer had “given 17 years of his life in service to his country”.

“My arse. He spent 17 years partying, passing laws for his business empire, shagging tarts and embarrassing the country,” said Giovanni Riga, 33, a Milan-based journalist in a crowded city bar.

It wasn’t just the Left that appeared relieved to see the back of the discredited prime minister. Roberto Formigoni, the pious and impeccably conservative, president of the Lombardy region surrounding Milan, appeared to ditch Mr Berlusconi without hesitation this weekend in jumping on the bandwagon for a new technocrat government to salvage Italy’s train-wreck economy.

The comments of local architect Anna Guadagnini, 32, were not untypical. “Thank God he’s gone. But I think the left would have been as bad – maybe not as embarrassing – for the economy.”

Michael Day, The Independent



About Marc Leprêtre

Marc Leprêtre is researcher in sociolinguistics, history and political science. Born in Etterbeek (Belgium), he lives in Barcelona (Spain) since 1982. He holds a PhD in History and a BA in Sociolinguistics. He is currently head of studies and prospective at the Centre for Contemporary Affairs (Government of Catalonia). Devoted Springsteen and Barça fan…
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