The question everyone is asking is will Silvio Berlusconi hang on until 2013?
The day after his hammering in Italy’s local elections coincided with the reopening of the Rubygate court case. It was a day the prime minister would probably rather forget.
He had put everything on the line, making his personal affairs a test of credibility.
But Berlusconi lost his Milan stronghold, failed in Naples, and even his Northern League allies shed several town halls – the collateral damage of his plunge in popularity.
In Milan he was leading the polls in April. Il Cavaliere was convinced that his home town, where he’d built his fortune and career as a businessman and politician would not yield.
But it did. Rubygate has turned out to be an affair too much.
The girl, said to have taken part in wild parties at the prime minister’s home in exchange for money, was still a minor at the time of the alleged events.
Despite the inquiry into the now infamous “bunga bunga” parties, in public Berlusconi has made light of them.
“You know that today I entered the parliament and the left, even the left, wanted to come and do “bunga bunga”. So even the political left is won over by my vision of life!” he joked on 25th February.
But this time, many Italians are no longer laughing. Since his beginnings in politics in 1994, barely a year has passed without his name being linked to various scandals. Berlusconi has until now always succeeded in slipping through the law’s nets and rebounding politically.
“Italy is going through what looks like a slow revolution. It’s not Egypt, this is not Tahrir Square but it does look as if things are changing and the tide has certainly changed,” said James Walston, Professor of International Relations at the American University of Rome.
“Whether it comes in and submerges Berlusconi’s period is still something which we’ll have to wait for. But he is now completely at Bossi’s mercy, at the Northern League’s mercy,” added the political analyst.
From now on Berlusconi’s fate is effectively in the hands of the only allies he has left in the government, Umberto Bossi’s Northern League.
In losing Milan, the League has lost the capital of its imaginary Padania. Although Bossi is insisting for now that the government remains in place, he had warned before the ballot that he would not be dragged down into the mire.