Status: 01/15/2022 04:20 a.m
In nine days, a new president will be elected in Italy. One is pushing 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. The Italia Viva MP received a surprise call from Silvio Berlusconi on his mobile phone. After a few minutes of small talk, it was clear: Berlusconi had dialed the wrong number and actually wanted to speak to a former member of the Five Star Movement – to solicit support from him for the presidential election.
Berlusconi on the phone to catch votes. This is not an isolated case, emphasizes Enrico Letta, chairman of the social democratic PD. Berlusconi’s candidacy is on the table and he’s serious. “I know,” says Letta, “that parliamentarians from my group have also received calls from Berlusconi over the past few days.”
The Social Democrats and the Five Star Movement have made it clear that they definitely do not want to vote for Berlusconi the week after next. The centre-right parties, on the other hand, support the candidacy of the now 85-year-old multi-billionaire – and are thus provoking public protests.
Convicted of tax fraud
Gianfranco Mascia is organizing a demonstration at Parliament for January 24, the day of the first vote on the new head of state. Berlusconi in the country’s highest office – that would be a nightmare, the journalist and environmental activist thinks: “The president of the republic must represent all Italians. He must have outstanding moral authority.” It is precisely these requirements that Berlusconi does not meet.
In 2013, Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud. For two years, the former Prime Minister was not allowed to hold any public offices and mandates, instead he had to do social work in a retirement home. But now Berlusconi is back at the head of his Forza Italia party, sits in the European Parliament and hopes to fulfill his lifelong political dream by moving into the Quirinal Palace.
A bad déjà vu for demo organizer Mascia. 28 years ago, when Berlusconi entered politics, Mascia brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets against Berlusconi with his initiative “Popolo Viola” (Purple People). “It’s not possible,” Mascia complains, “that we have to have these discussions again almost 30 years later.”
Berlusconi is “a convicted tax fraudster, someone who has been shown to have had contact with the mafia, who has degraded the role of women.” For him it is incomprehensible that the name Berlusconi is now being seriously discussed by parliamentarians again.
Self-promotion in his family’s media
How serious Berlusconi is is also evident outside of Parliament. Similar to when he entered politics in 1994, he uses his family’s media for self-promotion. A full-page advertisement appeared in the newspaper “Il Giornale” on Thursday with Berlusconi’s likeness and a long list of alleged qualities and achievements that are said to characterize the Quirinale candidate.
Among other things, the 22 points per 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 in Italy” and was president of a successful football club .
President with enormous conflict of interest
The politics professor and Berlusconi critic Gianfranco Pasquino shakes his head at this advertising campaign and warns: “Berlusconi’s problem is not only his political background.” His companies benefited, for example, from the current Corona reconstruction plan.
Berlusconi, says Pasquino, would be a president with an enormous conflict of interests. Berlusconi’s family holding not only includes media and telecommunications companies, but also financial companies, for example.
Around 60 votes are missing
In order to realize his dream of becoming president, Berlusconi first needs enough votes in the election assembly. 1009 electors vote, they are the members of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate as well as representatives of the regions.
So far, no political camp has had an absolute majority in the election assembly on its own. Berlusconi’s centre-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 get 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