Berlusconi and Patrizia d'Addario. From the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica

The whole world is chatting about the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s lifestyle. The news are full of details regarding alleged wild parties in his luxurious residences (see below Villa Certosa in Sardinia.) According to these reports all sorts of women attended these festas, including alleged under-age girls and paid escorts (see above Patrizia D’Addario) attracted to a possible career in TV or in politics (see Wikipedia for details.)

Berlusconi, sometimes depicted as a decadent Roman emperor (Mary Beard in the UK Times compared him to Tiberius,) is seen by many as possessing in ways grotesque the flaws usually ascribed to Italians, a lack of sexual restraint and a loose morality, among the rest.

And in fact many Italians voting for him say they like his way of life and admire him for being rich, powerful and for the number of women in his court. This is the way I am – he said replying to journalists asking if he was planning on changing his lifestyle after the scandals – and I cannot change at my age. Italians want me like that and support me.

Berlusconi's pharaonic mansion in Sardinia: Villa Certosa. Click for credits

Other Italians however vote for him because they prefer the right-wing coalition program to a left deprived of ideas and of real leadership. The opinion of a right-wing Italian fellow blogger, Wind Rose hotel, is that being a conservative doesn’t necessarily mean to be a fan of Berlusconi. I’m sure these Italians would prefer a more prudent behaviour by our Prime Minister, although it is to be noted that Berlusconi’s success owes a lot to his frankness which makes him different from the average byzantine Italian politician.

Traditionally Italians care little about a politician’s private life, his private vices being easily forgiven whenever his political action is deemed effective (we have discussed Italian cynicism and some possible historical causes.)

Many Italians are though starting to get embarrassed, to say the least. The line between the private and public sphere seems blurred to them if it is true that women’s sexual favours were /are later rewarded with a political career in the Italian or the European parliament. Someone is talking of Berlusconi’s possible resignation.

“Mr Berlusconi’s court – writes the British Independent – has no soothsayers to warn him of the Ides of March, but the sudden emergence of hostile noises from the Catholic Church is the modern Italian equivalent of that – especially as the Catholic Church continues to hold immense sway over public opinion.”

We are going to see how far Italian cynical indifference will go. Personally I don’t think Berlusconi will resign easily, unless something unprecedented occurs. He is still very powerful, though weakened, and he controls much of the Italian media, plus a lot depends on whether he will succeed in keeping the Italian economy going.

Whether these scandals are doing any real damage to him or not, the uneasiness of the Catholic Church – whose realpolitik is hard put to it – should not be under evaluated, although an additional element has to be considered in my opinion.

Berlusconi and Putin. Click for creditsBerlusconi’s ambition of playing as a separate negotiator with Russia, Iran and the Middle East is irritating both the EU and the USA. An example is Berlusconi’s support of Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline, seen as a rival to the planned Nabucco pipeline backed by the USA and the EU. The South Stream (see image below) is in fact considered dangerous by them since it would extend Russia’s blackmail influence over Europe.

A good example of Berlusconi’s foreign politics. He is so proud of being a personal friend of Putin, although it remains to be seen whether this friendship (or any other independent move) will prove profitable in the long (or even short) run.

South Stream gas pipeline map. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Click for credits
South Stream gas pipeline project map


If you want to know more:

Sex and the City (of Rome) which regards Italian sexuality and links to posts on this matter.

“Italians are Cynical, Amoral, Religiously Superficial”, on the possible roots of Italian cynicism.

See also:

Caesar, Great Man (and Don Juan)

Traces of Paganism in Italians

43 thoughts on “Is Berlusconi’s Power About to Decline?

  1. It all looks and sounds sooooo Roman. The Roman Imperatori, some Popes such as Alexander Borgia, the kings and former presidents and prime ministers including those with Mafia links, etc. What is so different about Berlusconi that it should make a difference? The instant world coverage, the EU sensitivities? Certainly Sarkozy can’t be too vocal, nor the Brits with their on going financial shenanigans in parliament. I understand Prince Philip Mountbatten (von Battenberg) also had some dillydallying. As the bible says:”Let he who has not sinned throw the first stone”. If you recall they all went away and no stones flew.
    He will fall according to his economy management, not his behaviour. Unless of course his coalition partners hypocritically let him down, an unlikely occurrence since they all feed at the same through.


    1. Ah ah ah, yes, they went away and no stone flew. You made me laugh. I’ll be back. I need to grab some food and drink, no matter what.

      No quick snack can be eaten in my house: I had to sit down and pay a tribute to family, food (and to rosé wine.)

      Sooo Roman? Happy my country is providing such entertainment to you and to the world. Sinners are everywhere, nothing new under the sun, but here only we reach this Borgia’s (or Trimalchio’s) magic, and I’m not referrring to Berlusconi only. Talk to you tomorrow, wine being a bad counsellor. And the Maker has come back and flooded me with comments.



  2. Berli is living out Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’?


    He lost Kaka. Maybe he needs to relax.

    Although, I think this was the right move for Milan – I digress.


    1. He is ‘relaxing’ ….
      Yes, he lost Kaka, but he can buy all the fantastic players he likes. I was never a fan of Milan. I much prefer Juventus.


  3. yeah, he is much talked about PM, with eclectic tastes. I am not sure how much of what I have read is true, but it was certainly a wee bit surprising to read some of the things. 🙂


    1. What is true and untrue will be checked by the judiciary. But ‘eclectic’ tastes and stupid jokes, yes. When Berlusconi announced enhancement of military patrolling of Italian cities against criminals, replying to a female journalist – who asked him if this would protect Italian women from rape – he said:
      “We would need as many soldiers as beautiful women and I don’t think that would be possible, because our women are so beautiful.” I wonder if he was flirting with that journalist too.


  4. I can’t and will not get into a conversation about the Dwarf with you, G. I simply cannot. My stomach lining forbids it.

    But thank you for posting this. The English-speaking world needs to get first hand notions from us common citizens – to complete the picture provided by the press – of who is ruling us. I am among the embarrassed you mention.

    Ciao Maestro, still waiting on that lunch on the other side of the Tiber.


  5. I guess so called leaders all over the world these days are buffoons who are (not) very amusing. But then WE elected them, mostly. In the western world wherever you look you see “leaders” in trouble because of their people’s disappointment or their odd behaviour. England, France, Italy, The U.S.of A., Canada and it’s minority governments saga. Saxony seems to have escaped the trend, probably due to austere Calvinism and Lutheranism. Victoria would have said: “We are not amused”.


    1. You mean Saxony in east Germany? An eccentric example, but I’ll check.

      I don’t know, his vulgarity seems hard to beat.

      He played “hide-and-seek” with Angela Merkel, hiding behind a column and crying “coo coo” to her. Which caused the lady to startle, swiftly turn around and say “Oh, Silvio”

      When Obama was elected he commented: “I don’t see problems for Medvedev to establish good relations with Obama because he is young, handsome and even tanned.” The list is endless.

      His ‘Vesuvial vices’ – as Celestine Bohlen called them *in the New York Times* – “spurred a trio of women academics in Italy to write an ‘Appeal to the First Ladies.’ It urges Michelle Obama and other wives of world leaders to boycott next month’s G-8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, to protest the Italian prime minister’s ’sexist’ and ‘offensive’ manner toward women.”


      1. I meant Saxony to include Germany and the Scandinavian countries as in Antiquity.
        Personally I think bringing the G8 to Aquila after the hardships they went through not so long ago is in very poor taste.
        When you consider the security measures and the inconveniences necessitated by so many heads of state in one small location, the Aquilans could have been spared that additional hardship.


        1. I totally agree. Plus the world leaders are worried because the shocks are continuing. If anything really bad happens, security forces might face the dilemma of who to save first: the heads of states or l’Aquila local people?


  6. Your PM displays all the common vices that the world attributes to Italian men (altho I know personally this is a broad sweeping generalization) – recently I have seen this behavior become a noticeable characteristic of Italian women as well as men – I think for example in terms of an authoress now discussing the foibles of Italian men and marriage – but she lists all the men she has been with as proof in her writings? And let us not forget the woman accusing B right now discussing she wanted a politcal favor for her ‘favors’? Hard to therefore criticize him alone as most of the women he has been involved with have discussed publically similar attitudes. Although I do not approve his personal behavior, I suspect Italy will not disapprove if he uses his ‘good business sense’ to help them against the fools destroying the world economy. And we Americans have our foolish politicians and Madoff’s to be leading that list.


    1. Hello Bonnie, welcome back!

      True, B displays the common vices of many Italian men. Certainly, objectionable behaviours are present in women too: it is not good to sell one’s body for a political or media career.

      But Berlusconi is different. He is not just any man. He is our PM. If it is proven that he has favoured any woman in her political career in exchange of sexual favours, this is absolutely not acceptable.

      On the same note, when any adult seduces a minor – who can easily be psychologically subjugated by experience, glamour, power and money – this is totally unacceptable. But in case Berlusconi did such a thing, it is even less acceptable, it is a terrible thing. Being our PM, his example is followed by many people. Greater power implies greater responsibility.

      And yes, of course Madoff is a horrible figure, beyond doubt.


      1. Of course if one buys it’s because another one sells. Madoff is an horrible figure of a man…but somebody bought what he was selling and nobody was coherced into buying.
        The interaction of dishonesty and greed is a fascinating spectacle.
        The same goes between Berlusconi and his friends of both sexes. Here is a man who has built his whole carreer around buying and selling to get rich and powerfull and he has succeeded. Many of both sexes just want to ride on his coattails as the saying goes.
        Both in business relationships and politics we usually get what we deserve.


        1. I’ll be brief: if Berlusconi breaks the law he has to pay like any other citizen. He has pushed some bill that makes him, as a PM, non accountable, and protected himself in many other ways. This is not acceptable. He is not above the law.
          And I find it absurd that the Church has been silent so far over many alleged wrongdoings by him, but when something ‘sexual’ arises, ‘noises’ from the Church are starting to be heard. This says a lot.


        2. //The interaction of dishonesty and greed is a fascinating spectacle.//

          Not so much fascinating as disgusting; the more so when we all turn hypocritically self-righteous after burning our fingers.


          1. I agree Vivek. But Paul didn’t mean ‘fascinating’ in a bad way. He rather meant somewhat ‘sociologically’ interesting.


  7. Have to agree with you – and of course, Americans have certainly have had our taste of our “leaders” leading us into their sordid lives – Clinton, JFK, even Obama have all been listed as to their personal lives and linked to other women – altho admittedly MSM has pretty much quashed the latest one – but that is where citizens are in the quandry of deciding what is pertinent to being a politician or what is not – one would hope moral fortitude would be part of that but unfortunately it seems meglomaniac personalities is becoming the acceptable behavior – it is because we voters tolerate and even behind the scenes approve and often mimic that they then ‘get away’ with it!Sigh…


    1. Yes, Bonnie, we voters accept too much and are too often manipulated. This happens in every country.
      ‘What is pertinent to being a politician or what is not’. That is a good theme, and probably there is confusion about it.


  8. How does he keep the “economy going?” What are his policies?

    Does anyone in politics address the Mafia? I have read that it controls nearly 30% of the GDP of the country! Is that close?

    Does B have any ideas? Or does he just improvise and use his power and media clout to keep on top of the fractured parties that might oppose him?


    1. @Lichanos

      I’m afraid I will be long.

      Mafia (Italian, Chinese, Russian etc.) is both a national and an international problem. I will consider Italian Mafia in future posts, if I can relate it to my themes.

      Berlusconi is very intelligent, organized, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world and the richest man in Italy. B could do something for the economy. The problem is: will he care? He seems too busy protecting himself from the judiciary, which is doing its job.

      Today the biggest problem in Italy is democracy.

      I will quote from *this article* which reflects my thoughts:

      There is a “lack of transparency in the Italian political system as well as threats to media freedom that would be unacceptable in any other western democracy.”
      “Politics has been replaced by the display of personal omnipotence” or, as Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa put it, with “men drunk on a delirium of their own greatness…” (= B)

      B “has created a climate of shame and embarrassment amongst Italians within and beyond Italy … There is growing recognition that things cannot continue as they are.” But…

      “The demise of Silvio Berlusconi’s reign, if it is coming, could be protracted and painful.”

      “These are worrying times for all who care about Italy, irrespective of their political views.”

      In reality this whole thing is a tragedy.


      1. MOR:

        Thanks to the pointer to that site – a good one. The article, very depressing. I don’t know enough of post-war Italian history to have a good idea why Italy has found itself in this quagmire, but it doesn’t look like the way out, if taken, will be anything but a long, hard slog. Good luck!! My thoughts are with you.


  9. Oh my. I have so much to catch up on, I’ve been away on vacation so long!

    I can’t help but think that a politicians life in politics mirror that of his personal life- if you’ll lie to your wife or mother so shall you to your people, etc…

    As I said, much to catch up on here. I’ll refrain from deep comment though until I thoroughly absorb your words. I sure have missed them!


  10. I agree with Janet — at least to a certain extent. A person who lies to his wife or mother will lie to the rest of us too. But I believe I have noticed that many people do not object to being lied to.


  11. @Janet
    @Paul Sunstone

    Janet, welcome back. Paul, welcome to my blog.

    I agree that a person who is a liar in family could have the tendency to lie also in public life. And, it is known Italians accept private lies in a politician (to a certain extent,) since they tend to separate the public and the private sphere.

    The point (and my doubt) is: can statesmen rule a country without lies? The declassification of documents all over the world has proven that *almost all* politicians told many lies. Whether right or wrong, they mostly thought they were doing it in the interest of their country. There is a big discussion on whether the employment of some duplicity in statecraft is necessary or not, since the Renaissance onward. Complicated topic.

    And that the Italians are more skeptical than the Americans about this and other things, seems also clear.

    (I’ve just commented on this at *Paul Sunstone’s blog*)


    1. Yes Paul (Costopoulos,) and I think this ‘realpolitik’ was not a mere creation of Machiavelli’s mind. He simply theorized what was already (and still is today) in the minds of the Italians. To North Europeans, though, it was a revelation, I believe. And America’s culture had its first origins in Northern Europe. Which in my view proves my point (well, Fernand Braudel’s) that deep cultural patterns are persistent.


  12. Great post. We don’t learn more about Berlusconi here in the United States. We get very little international news. Whether one likes him or not, he’s definitely a fascinating character. I hope you had a great weekend.


    1. Hi Keith. Well, I mainly stayed at home. Hope you had a livelier one lol.
      I think now you will hear about B soon since the G8 is approaching and Italy (hence our PM) is holding the presidency this time.
      Have a nice week!


  13. Patrizia D’Addario is surely good enough to sway any man’s morality – certainly Mine…

    I think “the future emperor of the world ” would agree!! 😀


    1. Ah ah ah, you bad bad boy. Well, yes, she is very attractive. And I’m pretty sure the future Emperor would not be indifferent to her charm. He is lost somewhere in Mumbai studying and he told me he cannot access the Internet from there.


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