10 December, 2012
The next episode
Silvio Berlusconi claims to have been besieged with people begging him to save Italy and, like the patriot he is, he will answer the call. He will stand at the election which, as his supposed successor Angelino Alfano says, rather renders the proposed primary for party leader irrelevant.
Interestingly, Silvio has announced his return to the political scene by ordering his members in the senate not to support Monti's government in the most recent vote of no confidence. Monti has survived but says he will resign after the budget is voted through.
Berlusconi has been making noises against the austerity measures, saying that a nation cannot live by the confidence of the markets alone.
Where Berlusconi's actions are interesting is as regards what happens to the budget. You might expect anti-austerity Berlusconi to try to vote it down, but the law on elections is that there must be one within, if I remember correctly, 70 days of the government resigning. If Silvio disposes of Monti quickly it would mean he could be voted in before the 'Ruby' trial where he is accused of sleeping with an underage prostitute.
What will the outcome be? The centre is pressing Monti to stand at the elections but, as discussed before in these pages, the well nurtured European Man doesn't really like kow-towing to the peasantry. And the signs at the moment are that he wouldn't win (something he would treat with incredulity). The Left's Bersani, fresh from his triumph in the primary, seems likely to get 30%. Berlusconi on present figures, even with the help of the Northern League, would not reach this figure. Monti would be third, able to form a coalition with either major party, but it isn't really his style.
My guess is that Monti won't stand and the centre will try to find a new leader (I have previously suggested Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Chairman of Ferrari, but he has ruled out standing as well).
What would Bersani be like? We don't know. There seem to be two Bersanis: the man of the Left, former communist, and the Bersani we saw in Prodi's government, who brought in liberalising measures to the workplace (although you still can't get a haircut on a Monday).
But there is plenty of running to go.