Is the party over for Silvio Berlusconi? Several commentators in today’s newspapers believe early elections are inevitable after the Italian prime minister’s indictment for alleged sex offences and abuse of power.
One wrote that Berlusconi was “worn down and gasping for breath”. But most expect him to fight on as he has done in the past.
The Northern League, partners in the centre-right government, have their own reasons for not wanting the government to be toppled.
“The judicial fury against the prime minister is evident to all. But if some judges think that this will also weaken the government’s business, they’re completely wrong,” said the League’s leader in the Senate, Federico Bricolo.
The trial in Milan is due to begin in April. The judges who will hear the case are all women.
Prosecutors say there is ample evidence that Berlusconi paid a Moroccan dancer for sex when she was under 18, and intervened with police to get her freed from custody. He denies the allegations.
He still has his backers: “I judge him as a politician who’s made a big contribution, and will continue to do so for the good of Italy”, said one man in Rome.
“They only talk about this … enough is enough. They’re not talking about politics anymore. They’re talking just about him…that’s all,” complained another.
One opinion poll this week suggests that almost 50 percemt of Italians believe the accusations are true.
As satirists have a field day, a well-known Italian band has adapted Shakira’s song “Waka Waka”, changing the title to “Bunga Bunga”… Berlusconi’s own term for his infamous parties.