Austerity measures throughout the eurozone have seen the same response from the public: vast protests, often violent,
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including tens of thousands whilst many government officials nervously attempt to reconcile the ‘necessary medicine’ of higher taxes, slashed pensions and public sector cuts with winning the public’s confidence. Italy is no different in this regard, from Greece, Portugal or Spain – but their level of absurdity and blatant corruption surely must take first prize.
That old, inexhaustible warhorse Silvio Berlusconi is at it again, recently giving a press conference on the eve of his new five-year jail term (reduced to one) for corruption. The perma-tanned man poured scorn on his ‘persecutors’ and also the one-year-old government of Mario Monti, blaming him for ‘fiscal extortion’ and essentially ruining Italy. The irony comes from a man who surely must have faced the aforementioned charge amongst the multitude of others in his history. Indeed, if the recent ruling holds and isn’t overturned on appeal or runs out of time due to the statue of limitations, the BBC reports that Berlusconi will face a five-year ban on holding public office.
Meanwhile, as the former Prime Minister held his conference, thousands filled the streets of Rome protesting the government’s austerity measures. Berlusconi may be out of public office and his party, the centre-right PDL, can only claim 15% of the public’s vote but the country’s dire economic situation finds them potentially moving from one political pendulum swing to another. The sad reality of ‘me-first’ politics is particularly apparent in Italy, but the self-serving attitude is not dissimilar from any other government the world over; it’s just other politicians don’t get flagrantly caught with under-aged prostitutes and done for corruption and recidivism on the same grand scale as Berlusconi does. Oh well, it makes for compelling viewing.