Saturday, April 15, 2006
Berlusconi's last legal hope of holding onto his PM job has evaporated:
The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's hopes that a recount of disputed ballot papers would overturn his narrow loss in the recent general election were dashed yesterday when his government was forced to admit there were too few contested votes cast to change the outcome. The Italian interior ministry's acknowledgement that the number of ballots in question for the lower house of parliament was not near enough to overturn his rival Romano Prodi's 24,000-vote majority discredited Mr Berlusconi's claim that he lost to Mr Prodi through "cheating". The announcement was made in a statement just hours after La Repubblica newspaper reported that Mr Berlusconi had ordered the interior minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, to annul the election hours after balloting ended but that Mr Pisanu had refused.Of course, Berlusconi still controls the Italian media, so he may very well try to stage a coup. But assuming he doesn't -- or that the coup is dashed -- then he loses control of the state-run portions of the media, as well as of the Italian judicial machinery. And he has a lot to fear from losing control of the judicial machinery. (This verdict, for example, would have gone against him had he not been large and in charge at the time.) I expect that Berlusconi may well flee Italy for some place more friendly to fascists, and less likely to extradite him. I can just see him petitioning Bush to to let him into the US as a "prisoner of conscience", even as FOX News ramps up the anti-Prodi coverage. And for all those of you out there who think that people like Bush and Berlusconi are too powerful and infallible to ever be defeated, note this, courtesy of Atrios:
The votes of 40,000 Canadian citizens who qualify as "Italians abroad," some of whom have never set foot in Italy and many of whom don't speak Italian, played a pivotal role in the defeat of billionaire Silvio Berlusconi in Italy's election yesterday, according to poll results released late last night. For the first time in history, a country's political fate appears to have been determined by citizens of other countries, after Mr. Berlusconi introduced a scheme in 2002 that defines eligible Italian voters by blood lines rather than residency.See, Berlusconi was hoping that he could get enough American FOX News watchers of Italian descent to vote for him, in order to counter the fact that his own political base in Italy was crumbling as early as 2002 despite his iron control of the media. But though he got a few votes from American voters, the Canadians more than offset the Americans, leading to a Prodi victory. Hoist by his own petard, Silvio is.
I would love to see the billionaire in jail. Italy would rise enormously in my esteem if they could put a billionaire in jail. That's one thing that I don't think could happen here.
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