After a vicious campaign denouncing and undermining Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi just last week shocked the world by opting for an official vote of confidence in his political rival.
The move came as a surprise to many, considering Berlusconi’s previously very vocal criticisms of Letta and his party, the Italian Democratic Party.
Berlusconi announced in recent weeks in no uncertain terms that he and his People of freedom (PDL) party would be leaving Letta’s coalition government and would be voting against him in any confidence vote.
However it became clear last week that despite what Berlusconi had promised, a large number of his own party were not prepared to follow his lead and leave the coalition government, or give Letta a vote of no confidence.
Although Letta appears to have won this round, it is by no means a death sentence for Berlusconi’s career. Like many Irish politicians of late, the 77 year old politician is famous for coming back from scandals, both legal and political.
However his sins finally appeared to have caught up to him in August 2012 when he was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to 4 years in prison (later reduced to just one).Then in 2013 he was found guilty of abuses of power and paying for sex with a then 17 year old and sentenced to 7 years.
The people of Ireland can no doubt empathise with Italians in their current political climate, having in recent years seen less than perfect politicians such as Charles Haughey and Bertie Ahern in positions of ultimate power, not to mention the infamous Morning Ireland interview in which then Taoiseach Brian Cowen was involved.
Even with these convictions and the humiliation of last Wednesday’s defeat hanging over his head, Berlusconi is still not a complete write off. He has vast monetary and media resources at his fingertips, and a good chunk of the Italian public are still fiercely loyal to him. So what will happen next is anyone’s guess.
Photo credits Alan Denney and Alessio85 on Flickr