Monday (January 24th): Berlusconi shakes up Italy

Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi

Name? Silvio Berlusconi

Westphalian identity? Italian

Age? 85

Why is he in the news? Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was all over the news in the past few weeks over his desire to become Italian President. However, this morning, Italy’s longest-serving prime minister and embodiment of scandals announced he would withdraw his candidacy because he could not gather the necessary votes. 

Why do we care? At first glance, not so much. The Italian president has a largely symbolic function as the prime minister handles the day to day politics and is elected by the Italian Parliament. However, the only other candidate with real prospects so far is the current Prime Minister Mario Draghi who is serving as a technocratic interim PM carried by a large non-partisan coalition until next year’s elections. He is also one of Europe’s most respected leaders at the moment which is important given Angela Merkel’s recent departure from politics and the vacuum she left on the European level. 

Why should you care? Because if Draghi becomes President, Berlusconi has already promised he would end the coalition that is currently keeping Italy together. Not only would this be devastating news for Italy, as Draghi’s main focus is directing as much money from the EU recovery funds to Italy as possible, but it also means an unreliable Italy for the EU, NATO and G7 during the aftermath. You should care 6/10 about Berlusconi’s shake up of Italy. 

Who else cares? French President Macron. If Draghi becomes President and Berlusconi blows up the current coalition, then Macron becomes Europe’s only senior influential leader without anyone in sight to counterbalance him.

Any further comments? Given that after this election the Italian parliament will shrink, many parliamentarians will lose their mandate. Because of this we do not expect calls for snap elections despite Berlusconi potentially blowing up the coalition; there is too much money (personal interest) on the table for all members of parliament.

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordinator