Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 13:00 UK

Press review: Berlusconi ruling

Italian media speculate on the future of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after the constitutional court quashed a law that gave him immunity, paving the way for trials against the Italian leader to restart.


Now Silvio Berlusconi has to confront the most difficult phase of his long political career. The constitutional court's sentence is the most sensational event of recent years, the one that could have the biggest political consequences.

The image of a prime minister who from tomorrow will have to turn up in various courts and answer magistrates' questions, under the fear of receiving heavy convictions, is devastating both on the national and the international front.


Silvio Berlusconi has the absolute right to announce that he will go ahead, even after [the ruling]. What he cannot say, as he said yesterday, unfortunately, in the heat of the moment after the sentence, is that the court made this decision "because it is of the left" and part of a movement that wants to subjugate the country.

Although he is convinced that he is the victim of persecution, Berlusconi has in fact managed to govern with as many as 11 trials hanging over him... Even now, despite the unpleasant nature of the accusations, what awaits him in Milan is not the gallows. It is a normal procedure, that will be conducted by a different court to the one that posed the question of constitutionality, and will come up against the statute of limitations next February.


If it is still permissible to say it, in the midst of the din, democracy showed its force of freedom yesterday. In the Italy of 2009 not everything can be intimidated by the violence of power and its apparatus, not everything is up for blackmail, not everything is up for sale.

The worst in fact, is still to come. Instead of going to the polls, as the men of the right were threatening in past days in order to make the risk of ungovernability and instability weigh on the court, yesterday Berlusconi rushed to say that his government was absolutely solid like his majority, and will carry on. In reality the prime minister is suffering from his gradual weakening.


Berlusconi will return to the courts. We will see some fine scenes. [He] has fire in his belly, and he is not the type to make gestures. He will go ahead fuelled by his obstinacy and his personal will, and backed by the support of the Italians, which not even his enemies deny.

He will stay away from adventurous and useless early elections. He will not do anything scary, let alone despotic, as an anxious and puerile (opposition leader Dario] Franceschini insinuated. The problem is not Berlusconi, who wallows in trials and has been used to cock fights for many years. The problem is the system.

Once again it is a judicial ruling that sets the course of politics, the agenda of Italian public life.


Even if it will not be easy to govern and to confront the trials suspended by [the immunity law], Berlusconi has already done it in the past.

The paradox of a leader consecrated by the popular vote but at risk of attrition from a sentence that reopens the doors of the courts is destined to weigh on the political future of Italy.

The international echo, often malevolent, that surrounds the Berlusconi saga, promises to grow until it becomes deafening. But if they are read correctly, the defeats can be managed. The prime minister remains the only point of balance not only of the governing majority but of the system. There is no trace of an opposition capable of being a candidate to run the country.

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