Share This Page

Mutiny halts gambit by Berlusconi

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:57 p.m.

MILAN — Silvio Berlusconi's failed attempt to topple the Italian government has left him weaker than ever, zapped of the aura of invincibility that has surrounded him for two decades as he faces the possible loss of his Senate seat and a ban from politics.

Still, it is unlikely to be his last act.

The 77-year-old three-time former premier staged one of Italy's most stunning political plot twists in memory on Wednesday when he took the Senate floor at the last minute to announce that he would, after all, support Premier Enrico Letta's government in a confidence vote.

It was a face-saving measure that came after key loyalists in Berlusconi's center-right party refused to follow his bid to collapse the coalition government as fallout over his tax-fraud conviction. The conviction carries a four-year prison sentence that endangers his role as a legislator.

“We have decided, not without internal strife, to vote in confidence” Berlusconi said.

Though he tried to look magnanimous, it was the billionaire media mogul's first defeat within the party he founded and which has achieved electoral success largely through his personal appeal.

Berlusconi's retreat bestows a measure of stability on Letta's 5-month-old left-right coalition, which won confidence votes in both houses and awaits the daunting task of trying to revive Italy's economy. And while Berlusconi was left bruised and battered, political analysts argue he is not out of the picture.

“Berlusconi is not finished,” said Roberto D'Alimonte of Rome's LUISS University. “This is another step toward the end, but it is not the end yet. The end will come with a major electoral defeat.

“He has great resources. He has media resources, financial resources, the resources of the 6 or 7 million voters who will follow him down the abyss. That is why he cannot be counted out, even with his options being closed.”

Whether Berlusconi can ever again face the electorate is far from certain, because his judicial woes are narrowing his ability to maneuver.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.