Commentary. Thanks to the circle of his courtiers and the call center set up by Sgarbi, who owes him a great debt, Berlusconi managed to keep Italy on its toes, at the mercy of his decrepit desires for power.

The farce is over, and the real show is beginning

Without even the drama of Gloria Swanson in her career’s decline, but rather in the tones of a farce by the Vanzina brothers, Silvio Berlusconi has thrown in the towel, giving up his mad, disbelief-inducing race towards the presidency. It’s a relief — first of all for the country, which did not deserve to experience the dubious entertainment of this farce. And also for the center-right, which Berlusconi has continued to keep on the ropes in conflict-ridden Zoom meetings, not very appropriate for such an important decision as the election of the President of the Republic should rightfully be.

For some time — and now without the cultish support of the people who used to sing praises to the divine gift that was Silvio — it was obvious to all but him that his ancient glory could not be resurrected on the wings of a highly unlikely majority of voters. Yet, thanks to the circle of his courtiers and the call center set up by Sgarbi, who owes him a great debt, he managed to keep Italy on its toes, at the mercy of his decrepit desires for power.

After the great conclave, with the general laying down his arms and the colonels turning their weapons on each other, his expected exit from the scene was followed by a kind of watchword that has spread among the various party leaders: Draghi should remain Prime Minister and shouldn’t even think about the presidency. We will soon see what will happen.

But if Mario Draghi were to move to the presidency and one of his mouthpieces were to end up at the Palazzo Chigi, then we would pass from farce to tragicomedy: no longer in a Vanzina film, but rather one worthy of the great genius of Dario Fo. It’s entirely possible that after the intermediate stop of prime ministership, Draghi might end up at the Quirinal Palace, as the election enters its most important phase from Sunday, with the casting of votes. It wasn’t so difficult to foresee the grand trajectory of his political adventure in Italy, already touted by the big newspapers back when the yellow-red majority was still trying to stay afloat (“Draghi aims at the presidency; we can’t imagine him getting down into the dirt of politics”).

Instead, “Super Mario” had to get his hands dirty running the government after all. And with questionable results: an unfair budget law, an uncertain management of the pandemic, massive growth of insecurity and unemployment, especially for women, a grotesque environmental policy (with nuclear power thrown in?). But now that most has been done, and anyone, even an autopilot, could continue to implement the program already established (Draghi’s words), everything is ready for him to climb to the presidency.

And the one who would play the role of Prime Minister pro-tempore (until new elections, which would be as disquieting and badly-timed as ever), we would be looking for a “colleague,” or rather an “avatar” of him, as we have called this unique figure of “subordinate prime minister” immediately after that famous Christmas press conference. Would it be another civil servant drawn from the current government team, or, even better, from the pool of high-ranking pensioners (of which it seems that the State Council has a “reserve”)?

Those most fond of the old idea of democracy have not given up hope that it will be a man (or woman) with a political background who will lead the government. But at a time when it has become a point of merit to not have a history in any of the parties (the big newspapers—again them—are praising the fact that we don’t know who Draghi is voting for, the only case in the West of a “political interloper” as premier), the prevailing message is the indifferent and fascist-sounding one that it is better to get to work and not talk about politics: one should not bother those in charge. But bother whom, exactly? The answer is, the European economic and financial structures (“the markets”), the same ones that catapulted Draghi to Palazzo Chigi to scuttle a center-left government that was hated by Confindustria and which, on top of that, had the audacity to want to spend the avalanche of billions of the NRP.

Completing the metamorphosis of a democracy into technocracy—or, as Professor Luciano Canfora calls it, into a “democracy of the rich”—in less than a year is not an easy task. The double somersault to the presidency from the government requires uncommon agility. First of all, one would have to untangle an institutional impasse (the current Prime Minister essentially appointing his successor) which has never been encountered before. However, nothing happens by chance, and without repeating the well-worn criticisms of the crisis of politics, we can say that the time seems to be more than ripe for a “revolution from above.” And then, aren’t we the country where half of the electorate doesn’t vote anymore?

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!