Thursday, 24 January 2008
In many ways, it is part of Italy's charm that things there don't work quite as smoothly as perhaps they should in a First World country. But even my unbounded love of the place does not allow me to see everything through rose-tinted spectacles. Today, devoid of such saving spectacles, the spectre of another four years of Berlusconi looms all too clearly; all too painfully.
Just as the takeover of the US by a bunch of partisan ideologues may be coming to an end, European leaders are mounting a series of strong bids to wrestle the status of the world's liberal democracy governed in the most absurd manner from Bush & Co. Under Sarkozy's leadership, France's political culture is starting to resemble the ancien regime: l'etat, c'est moi - now, to amuse yourselves, pleeease do gossip about my sex life.
And under Berlusconi's leadership - not yet a certainty but, alas, the most likely outcome of the current crisis - Italy will once again be reduced to being the private thiefdom [sic] of a skillful entertainer. Don't you worry for yourselves: the wine will be as good as ever, the food as appetizing, and the people as welcoming. But do take a moment to pity another lost generation of talented Italian youngsters, unable to do what they want to do with their lives - and help Italy in the process - because the same-old structures of corruption and patronage continue to squeeze out all meritocracy. For those who actually need to lead their lives there, the new round of Italy's political bafoonery has lost all its charm.