Sides of the Scandal: Berlusconi

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Facts of the Matter

It was neither bribing British lawyers nor Bunga Bunga parties that finally landed Silvio Berlusconi in gaol this week. The notorious billionaire who has dominated Italian politics for 20 years was convicted of tax fraud on a massive scale through his Mediset media empire. He can wave his political career goodbye, agree most commentators. Berlusconi has been banned from public office for three years and must pay 10 million euros in damage. And the ex-PM has also been sentenced to four years in prison for his nasty ‘criminal tendency’.

Slippery Giuseppe

Good luck with that, said the Sunday Tele- graph. Berlusconi has wriggled out of every charge against him to date, mainly by allowing each case to drag on so long that they eventually expire under the statute of limitations. The’Teflon-coated’ scoundrel is going to make two appeals, both of which could take years. ‘Mr Berlusconi will never see the inside of a prison.’

National Heart Stealer wanted

John Hooper in the Guardian agrees. But nev- ertheless, the events that occurred in Milan last week matter for Italian politics. Berlusconi’s corrupt and floundering right-wing PdL party has been falling in the polls for over a year. The conviction of the party’s founder for tax fraud could be the final nail in its coffin. And then what, asks Guy Dinmore in the Financial Times. The Democratic party looks unlikely to emerge unhurt from its ‘brusing primaries’ in which the Leftists will be pit- ted against moderates. Two such uninspiring parties could lead to an inconclusive election result next year and one which is even more rule by unelected technocrats: ‘good for markets, but hardly for democratic accountability’