Presidential in Italy: how Berlusconi promotes his election

Status: 01/15/2022 04:20

In nine days, a new president will be elected in Italy. One pushes forward that many have written off: Silvio Berlusconi. He’s still missing votes – but he’s working to change that.

By Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Studio Rome

Luciano Nobili found out how things are going in Rome these days. MP Italia Viva received a surprise call from Silvio Berlusconi on his mobile phone. After a few minutes of chatter, it was clear: Berlusconi had gotten the wrong number and actually wanted to speak to a former member of the Five Star Movement – ​​to solicit his support for the presidential election.

Berlusconi on the phone to capture the votes. This is not an isolated case, underlines Enrico Letta, president of the social-democratic PD. Berlusconi’s candidacy is on the table and he is serious. “I know,” says Letta, “that parliamentarians from my group have also received calls from Berlusconi in recent days.”

The Social Democrats and the Five Star Movement made it clear that they absolutely did not want to vote for Berlusconi the following week. Center-right parties, on the other hand, support the candidacy of the now 85-year-old multi-billionaire – and thus provoke public protests.

Sentenced for tax evasion

Gianfranco Mascia organizes a demonstration in Parliament for January 24, the day of the first vote on the new head of state. Berlusconi to the highest office in the country – it would be a nightmare, thinks the journalist and environmental activist: “The President of the Republic must represent all Italians. He must have exceptional moral authority.” It is precisely these requirements that Berlusconi fails to meet.

In 2013 Berlusconi was found guilty of tax evasion. For two years, the former Prime Minister was not allowed to hold public offices and mandates, but had to do social work in a retirement home. But now Berlusconi is back at the helm of his Forza Italia party, sits in the European Parliament and hopes to fulfill his lifelong political dream by moving to the Quirinal Palace.

Bad Deja Vu

A bad déjà vu for the organizer of the Mascia demo. 28 years ago, when Berlusconi entered politics, Mascia took tens of thousands to the streets against Berlusconi with his “Popolo Viola” (Purple People) initiative. “It’s not possible,” complains Mascia, “that we have to have these discussions again almost 30 years later.”

Berlusconi is “a convicted tax evader, someone who had contact with the mafia, who degraded the role of women”. For him, it is incomprehensible that the name of Berlusconi is again seriously discussed by parliamentarians.

Self-promotion in his family’s media

Berlusconi’s seriousness is also evident outside parliament. As when he entered politics in 1994, he uses his family’s media to promote himself. A full-page advertisement appeared Thursday in the newspaper “Il Giornale” with the likeness of Berlusconi and a long list of alleged qualities and achievements that would characterize the candidate for the Quirinal.

Among other things, the 22 points by Berlusconi say: He is “a good and generous person”, “father of five children and grandfather of 15 grandchildren”, he is one of the “most important taxpayers of ‘Italy’ and was president of a successful football club.

President with a huge conflict of interest

Politics professor and Berlusconi critic Gianfranco Pasquino shakes his head at the ad campaign and warns: “Berlusconi’s problem is not just his political past. His companies have benefited, for example, from the current Corona reconstruction plan.

Berlusconi, says Pasquino, would be a president with a huge conflict of interest. Berlusconi’s family holding company includes not only media and telecommunications companies, but also financial companies, for example.

60 votes are missing

In order to realize his dream of becoming president, Berlusconi first needs enough votes in the electoral assembly. 1009 voters vote, these are the members of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate as well as the representatives of the regions.

So far, no single political camp has obtained an absolute majority in the electoral assembly. Berlusconi’s center-right alliance, which also includes Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Italy’s right-wing brothers, is about 60 votes short. With his current telephone conversations, Berlusconi is obviously trying to bring these voices together.

Calls and reports – Berlusconi drums for his election as head of state

Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Rome, 14.1.2022 9:55 p.m.

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