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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Is Silvio Berlusconi any of Europe's business?
Silvio Berlusconi's victory in the Italian elections is being watched closely in Europe's capitals.

There have been worries that he might be skewed rightwards by his political allies - including Umberto Bossi's Northern League.

Some people have even suggested that sanctions should be applied, similar to those the EU adopted after the electoral success of Joerg Haider's Freedom Party in Austria.

So, is it any of the rest of Europe's business who's won Italy's elections?

For this Europewide Debate, Europe Today's Mark Reid brought together Belgian journalist Luc van der Kelen in Brussels and in Vienna, the journalist, Annaliese Rohrer.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Europeans claim that democracy is of prime importance, then throw a tantrum when people exercise their right to vote in a way contrary to the political hegemony.
Daniel Rego, USA

Italy, decide your own fate

Peter, USA
How can this even be a question? The left in Europe is pretty similar to the one in the US. Democracy is great, but only if they get it their way. If they don't then it is all about banning, sanctioning and satanising. Italy, decide your own fate.
Peter, USA

I don't think other European governments can do much, since they have to interact at an institutional level. However, we need Europe and European opinion-makers to be interested in the worrying situation of a man accused of corrupting judges (and other things) as the leader of an important member of the EU. His conflict of interests is another situation to monitor. His evident vanity and violence of language make him an unpleasant character, but his judicial past and involvement in so many economic areas about which he has to legislate make him a danger for democracy and the rule of law.
Richard Dury, Italy

Perhaps the politicians from other countries are upset he might do a good job and thus make them look as stupid and useless as they seem to be. But its basically none of their concern at the moment, he won deal with it. Italy is a democracy.
Rab Small, Scotland

I have friends in Italy that seem to think that Berlusconi is going to save Italy. However, it seems simplistic that one person would solve the varied issues and problems of a complex country like Italy. It is certainly in Europe's best interest to a part of what is happening there as Europe is so inter linked. I think that Berlusconi will not be the 'Dream Team' for Italy.
Rebecca Marin, USA

The other European PMs and Presidents are upset simply because they fear their own electorates getting ideas about voting out an ossified and meddlesome left-wing regimes.
Adrienne, American in Germany

There will soon be fresh elections

David Giddings, Italy
I don't like any of Berlusconi's fundamentalist clerical-Catholic and ex-fascist friends. Berlusconi is the best of a bad bunch. But it's nobody's business but Italy's. Democracy is democracy, like it or not. There will soon be fresh elections and Italians will decide again. It's not a tragedy. Yet.
David Giddings, Italy

Europe had no business interfering in the Austrian election results and likewise should keep its nose out of Italian politics. The US federal government does not intervene if a state elects a government distasteful to it. Why should the European Union do so with its member and supposedly sovereign countries? As a matter of fact the European Union seems to infringe way too much in the sovereign affairs of its member nations.
Stephen Smoot, West Virginia, United States

It is nobody's business except the Italians

Vikram S, India
It is nobody's business except the Italians. Frankly, too many Europeans have nothing better to do than to lecture and meddle in affairs that should not concern them. Get a life!
Vikram S, India

Even if in my opinion it was a serious mistake, Italy has democratically elected Berlusconi and his entourage into power. However, since Italy is part of a democratic Europe, other countries and politicians also have the democratic right to express their opinion on the choice, whether favourable or not.
Marcello, USA

This was a fair and democratic election in which the Italian people had the chance to show their feelings and to express their rights. Malta and Italy have had a special relationship for a long time. I hope that this will continue to be the case and that this relationship becomes stronger and not weaker.
Mark, Malta

Who decides who the right people are?

Chris M, England
If someone is democratically elected in an internationally validated election, how can sanctions then be justified because the 'wrong' person got in? Who decides who the 'right' people are? Should we send a gunboat to stand off the coast to make sure that next time the Italians vote for whom Blair and the rest want?
Chris M, England

I think it should be Europe's business, as the way Berlusconi won the elections was not entirely democratic, even if it was legitimate according to Italian laws. A lot has been said and written on Berlusconi's conflict of interests, but probably he shouldn't have be allowed to stand as a candidate.
Silvia, Italy

Quite frankly, no! The Italian people have spoken. If they had voted the Communists in power, would there have been calls for sanctions then? Of course not! This is typical leftwing EU mumbo-jumbo. I say, "Congratulations and good luck, Signor Berlusconi!"
Mark M. Newdick, USA/ UK

Listen now
... to both sides of the debate
See also:

15 May 01 | Europe
Berlusconi lays out big plans
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