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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK
Italians ponder Berlusconi law
By Suzanne Bush

Silvio Berlusconi can now lead Italy into its six-month presidency of the European Union (EU), safe in the knowledge that it will not be blighted by his current corruption trial.

Laurent Marchot
Laurent Marchot: "Berlusconi is the victim of propaganda"
The timing of this legislation, granting legal immunity to the five most senior people in Italian politics, would cause outrage in most countries around the world.

Here the outcry has been muted, however for many it represents a huge step backwards for Italy.

"The law should be the same for everyone," said Pino, who did not want to give his full name.

"I'm sorry this is happening, but I don't think there's anything anyone can do to stop it. I just hope the law is reversed at the next election."

Even those who voted for Mr Berlusconi think he has made a mistake in pushing through legislation which benefits him more than anyone else.

But Laurent Marchot remains a strong supporter.

I hope other countries realise that not all Italians are in favour of this
Rosa Mancini
"He's in government because people voted for him," he said.

"I look at what's changed. All the things he said he'd do, he's done.

"But the propaganda against him goes on because they don't agree with a lot of things that he does.

"But he's not perfect. Some things he has done for himself as well, like introducing this legislation while his trial is ongoing."

'New low'

Many Italians say they are disillusioned with politics in their country.

Alessandra Serra
Alessandra Serra: "Reaction would have been very different in England"

They are forced to choose between a strong centre-right government which does exactly what it wants, or a divided centre-left coalition, which many feel achieved little when it was last in power.

As Italy prepares to lead the EU, people here are well aware of how bad the new law makes their country look, but they say this is nothing new either.

"Italy comes from a long tradition of not caring what other countries think of it, for various historical reasons," said Alessandro, "and people certainly won't look on this very favourably."

Rosa Mancini said Italian politics has reached a new low with the passing of the immunity law.

"I hope other countries realise that not all Italians are in favour of this. Berlusconi is a loose cannon. You've seen how he talks. He doesn't even think about what he's saying and doing."

"Scandalous" is how Alessandra Serra described the new legislation.

She believes that in other countries, it would be enough to bring down the government.

"I think what would happen in a country like England if a scandal like this happened. I just think about that little affair involving Tony Blair's wife. I think the reaction would be completely different."

Berlusconi granted immunity
18 Jun 03  |  Europe
Berlusconi in new court drama
17 Jun 03  |  Europe
Italian senate backs PM immunity
04 Jun 03  |  Europe
Berlusconi to be tried alone
16 May 03  |  Europe
Berlusconi set to ride out storm
30 Apr 03  |  Europe
Italian PM attacks judiciary
30 Jan 03  |  Europe

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