ARRIVEDERCI, SILVIO

Questo invece è l’editoriale di oggi del Financial Times. So che riproducendolo qui violo i termini del copyright ma confido che i colleghi dell’FT capiranno. E’ un momento delicato per la democrazia italiana, non mi sembra il caso di lesinare sull’informazione.

 

Seven years ago Silvio Berlusconi’s doctor described the Italian prime minister, then 67 years old, as “technically, almost immortal”. At times the billionaire media mogul appears politically almost indestructible as well. But just as the good doctor’s remark contained more than a touch of exaggeration, so Mr Berlusconi’s political career is certain one day to come to an end. It would be best for his nation, and for the European Union, if that moment arrived now rather than later.

A Milan judge is expected to rule this week on whether Mr Berlusconi should stand trial on charges of paying for sex with an under-aged nightclub dancer and using his power to free her from a prison where she was held on suspicion of theft. There can be few democracies where a prime minister caught up in such an affair would not tender his resignation to spare his government and country difficulties while he sought to clear his name. But as the tale of Ruby the Heart-Stealer is teaching us, this is not Mr Berlusconi’s style.

By remaining at his post, he ensures that Italy’s name will continue to be dragged through the mud under the relentless spotlight of the international media. He ensures that his centre-right coalition government, with its lack of a reliable parliamentary majority, will be distracted from its tasks and incapable of vigorous action at a time when Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is far from over. Lastly, he ensures that the EU looks foolish and hypocritical in delivering lectures to Egypt, Tunisia and other non-European countries on how to govern themselves when it contains such a supreme example of misgovernment at its heart.

Mr Berlusconi calls himself a victim of persecution by leftwing prosecutors and judges bent on reversing the electorate’s verdict and overthrowing him in a judicial coup d’état. His complaint has merit only in the sense that his centre-left opponents, a jumble of ex-communists, progressive Christian Democrats, Greens and others, are so weak that the courts often look like the real opposition. Nonetheless Mr Berlusconi’s departure need not present a problem: Italy’s centre-right could easily find a replacement in its ranks.

Italy has numerous fine public servants, ranging from Giorgio Napolitano, its head of state, to Mario Draghi, its central bank governor. They do honour to their country and represent the Italian nation at its best. Mr Berlusconi does not, and his refusal to do the right thing and step down is nothing short of shameful.

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