Still clinging on
Twelve days after losing the Italian election, Silvio Berlusconi is still clinging to power, refusing either to concede defeat. This is in line with his arrogant and authoritarian character, but it’s also a reflection of how much he has to lose. Until the elections, Berlusconi controlled not only the Parliament, but also much of the mass media and the judiciary.
If he loses, he faces the prospect of being forced either to leave politics or to divest himself of control over his media empire. And without political office, he will lose immunity from prosecution for his many dubious activities. So, it’s scarcely surprising that he is refusing to recognise the outcome of the election.
It’s vital that the incoming centre-left government pursue him on every front to break his massive political power once and for all. Although this is a forced move in political terms, it looks possible that squabbling within the coalition might lead them to duck the tough actions. In this sense, Berlusconi’s irresponsible and anti-democratic actions are a blessing, reminding the new government of the kind of threat they are dealing with.