Italy: Bad Day for Sultan Berlusconi as Millions of Women Demand He Resign

Photo (click for large) by Francesca Ottobelli: anti-Berlusconi protesters in Italy today.

"If Not Now, When?" was a national demonstration of Italian women, against Berlusconi and, to put it bluntly, his porno-democracy. The demo had other slogans as well: Resign! Basta! I don't give up! ADESSO, NOW!

A flash mob in 280 cities of Italy and 50 cities abroad, millions of people, mostly women, but also men and children. The demonstrations have been growing in the months since Berlusconi got caught up in the sex scandal vertigo with minors, prostitutes, pimps and orgies.

A week ago in Milan, in a big rally, the prominent intellectuals in Italian public life threw themselves into the campaign: the distinguished professor and writer Umberto Eco, Roberto Saviano the star of the antimafia campaign, the judges of of the constitutional court, trade union leaders and many others. But as one of the speakers, the orchestra director Pollini remarked : Berlusconi will never step down.

Berlusconi did not leave public life. On the contrary, he sped up his counter-campaign, attacking the judges in Milan who brought the latest of many legal cases against him. He even threatened to take his case to the European Parliament and sue the nation of Italy. He organized rallies in his support , claiming that his innocent altruistic interest in young girls had been cruelly misunderstood. He also accused the investigators of orchestrating a communist-biased coup against himself as head of government.

But his luck may be turning these days, after sixteen long years of media monopoly and political domination. Even the Catholic daily, Avvenire, came out with a big editorial claiming that decent Catholic women should be in the public squares on the 13th of February. It's rare of the Church to urge women to take to the streets to defend their dignity. Then there is the dignity of the state to consider, for the ludicrous shambles of Italian public life has become a matter of international concern.

(photo: Francesca Ottobelli)

(photo: Sara Zampieron, Click for large)

A British comment in the Guardian justly noted that European Union as the monitor of high democratic standards within the community of states. Yet while they preach good governance to applicant countries like Turkey and Serbia, they ignore the calamitous decline of democracy in Italy, an EU founding state. Italy has become a European laughingstock, all harems, dictators, old men and underage girls.

An irate 18 year old guy in Italy demanded publicly: how am I supposed to get a girlfriend of my own age, since Berlusconi, the grandad of the nation, is buying them all? I don't have his years, his money and power, I don't even have a job or a decent education. University and hospital funds are cut, jobs are in recession and Berlusconi's parliamentary allies are cutting the country apart with regionalist laws. Berlusconi' s government still holds the majority in the parliament. The president of Italy had to admonish him that the country is not his private property.

The president also alleged that Italian democratic institutions are sound, but clearly Berlusconi doubts that and so do the millions of Italians today in the squares all over Italy. In Torino, the capital of Italy in its unification years ago, a protester said: we are the head of the boot extending toward Africa.

The demo today lacked party or ideological symbols: it was a flash mob with umbrellas and screams; RESIGN. It was extremely successful, unitary and grand. It brought out of the closet what is left of Italian decency after long reign of a small macho dictator, who has publicly realized the worst dreams of Italian macho culture. As a woman demonstrator put it: some men after all do prefer a partner to a harem.

Today women of all ages and political opinions were in the squares and streets; I saw Italian women, foreign women, clandestine women, special needs women, female beggars and hobos, girls, babies, even nuns!...and I saw men, boys, old men... The performance was to open the umbrellas, scream RESIGN and spread colorful woolen threads among the crowd to bind those different people. Music played: Patti Smith, Fabrizio de Andre. Girl bloggers asked for a ban of internet use of nude bodies. Women have a value, not a price! Men made fun of their macho patriarchal language with banners and in drag clothes. Pornocrazia!

Today 13th February is the "international day of mistresses." Tomorrow it's Valentine's day, the day of love. Whatever this meeting will bring to future of Italy and the reign of Berlusconi, it's clear beyond doubt that nobody doubts Berlusconi's guilt. They despise his use and abuse of girls and money. Now the big question is -- does public indignation matter? The old Sultan will leave his thone someday, and if not now, when?

Women toppled their rich, remote, corrupted regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. If not here, where? So why not in Italy too?

Jasmina's blog:

(photo: Francesca Ottobelli)

(photo: Francesca Ottobelli)

(photo: Francesca Ottobelli)


  1. Ah, the old Madonna/whore bs. (how apropos…)

    Defending women’s “dignity”? Banning nudity? “Abuse” of women (minors are another story – age of consent, etc)? Berlusconi misappropriating funds not his own is one thing and, if using said bs to oust him works to put someone better in, great.?. But let’s be real. Prostitutes, pimps, orgies, harems, oh my!!! Nothing like a good sex scandal, ripe with “dirty, dirty, oh sooo dirty” trigger words, to get humanity riled up.

  2. >Now the big question is — does public indignation matter?

    Sure. Voter indignation matters, at the voting booth.

    > The old Sultan will leave his thone someday, and if not now, when?

    Election day? In Egypt you couldn’t really vote the guy out (that’s what makes someone a dictator, duh!). What exactly stops Italians from voting Berlusconi out? And why haven’t they done it before? (I’m honestly asking, I don’t know)

    Are we going to decide stuff on how many enthusiastic people we can bring to the streets on a given day? What about those who stayed home (and support the guy)?

    I’m no fan of Berlusconi, btw, I just wonder if democracy is to be replaced by mob rule now. Egypt couldn’t vote, we can.

    Now, Berlusconi aside:

    >As a woman demonstrator put it: some men after all do prefer a >partner to a harem.


    >Girl bloggers asked for a ban of internet use of nude bodies.

    Whaaaaat? A “ban”? Is this the new order? What next, the tirany of nuns and burkas? FIY, my girlfriend and why would love to have a (volunteer) harem for both of us. And we love porn. So sorry, prudes.

    >An irate 18 year old guy in Italy demanded publicly: how am I >supposed to get a girlfriend of my own age, since Berlusconi, >the grandad of the nation, is buying them all? I don’t have his >years, his money and power(…)

    er…he has his youth? Are all women prostitutes now? Now it’s B’s fault he can’t find a gf? I’m poor too, and I have a gf.

    Good grief, too many lunatics in this mob.

    1. anon-

      it’s possible that there can be a cultural norm somewhere between nuns/burkas and porn/prostitution in the presidential palace. sexual libertinism is good and fine, but is best relegated to the margins of society. (it’s much more enjoyable there, too.) i submit that it’s a bad idea to have this sort of behavior front and center in a society. while YOU & your gf may enjoy porn, many people (who are not prudes) find it unpleasant and disgusting.

      the feel of a society is influenced by those at the top- if the people at the top seem to be self-serving narcissists who are concerned only with their pleasures, that sends a very toxic message to the rest of society. it says: none of you are important, every man for himself.

  3. Some side notes:

    • Regime-aligned newscasts have basically glossed over the manifestations, instead preferring to underline the increased influx of Tunisian immigrants (a hard stance against immigration being one of the main points of the Northern League, Berlusconi’s main allies). “Regime-aligned” newscasts are those from Berlusconi’s own networks, and those from State TV channels that have “aligned” directors (notably the nation’s premiere newscast TG1, and moved-to-Milan-from-Rome-to-appease-the-Northern-League TG2).

    • La Russa, Minister of Defence and member of Berlusconi’s party, allegedly mashed a reporter’s feet while the reporter was trying to interview him during a 150-strong manifestation in support of the government. The reporter was from the Annozero TV show, extremely critical of Berlusconi’s activities — also the top show, ratings-wise, on the State TV channel it runs on (Rai 2), despite several attempts to shut it down. (Source: )

    • Juvenile unemployment in Italy reached a record rate of 30% in December 2010, the highest amount since monthly figures have started being reported in January 2004. (Source: )

    1. I actually lived in Italy. Berlusconi has made unliveable for women who want to be human beings and not decorative objects.

  4. Let’s try to exploit the female populace with the whole exploitation of females schtick….


  5. Meh.
    His concubines aren’t exactly held at gunpoint. Let him have his fun. Complain about his policies on their own merit.
    At least he’s upfront about it.
    Jefferson, FDR, Ike, JFK, Clinton, all forked around. And so would you in the same position.

  6. THx for the fem power article! The wave hits the other side of the Mediterranean?! … Who’s Next ??! How about a septuagenarian dickhead dictator across the pond !?!

  7. Christ, what an asshole! The nasty shit from your used electronics will seep into water supplies in third world nations just as your unquestioning attitude toward sexism will seep shit into your life. The acceptance in society of the exploitation of women has lead to this sort of disgusting behavior not getting someone kicked out of office. The mass acceptance of advertisements prostituting women, pop art showing pin ups frequently linked in indie type sites, the acceptance of porn as completely totally alright, the constant pressure placed on attractiveness, the subtle innuendo inherent in seemingly innocent comments. I’m so pissed I don’t even attempt at coherence. Call me a prude! I’m an atheist, I’ve always been up for more openness about sexuality, but there is a fucking huge problem when the sexism placed on women is accepted. It fucks up everyone, so go ahead and keep buying your daughter Disney princess poison, enforce in yourself that you must be attractive, wear make up, shave your pubes, take 100s of pictures of yourself and post them each week on facebook, say self hating comments about your weight, your lack of worth, watch your porn of 2 chicks displaying themselves for your sexual gratification. Why can’t intelligent people stop this in themselves!

  8. Before I’m accused of exaggerating — TG1’s night edition has gone on re: immigration for at least fifteen good minutes now, drumming it up Fox style above and beyond what they did in similar situations in the past.

    Not one mention of *one million people saying their government sucks*.


  9. As an Italian now living abroad, my view is that, should Berlusconi leave tomorrow (which he won’t anyway), it will take another generation to restore the cultural environment to something akin to what we had pre-1983, when Bettino Craxi took power; he was Berlusconi’s political godfather (and best friend, and also very close to that Ben Ali of Tunisian fame, among others), and he established the current culture of moral corruption, media monopoly and tolerance of mafia business, which eventually brought Silvio B. to power in 1994.

    The common house of Italian culture is in ruins, and it needs to be rebuilt, little by little, starting from the very foundations. This demo laid down one brick more, “respect for women”; many others are still missing: racial discrimination is widespread (especially against gypsies and blacks, of course), religious intolerance is common, violent homophobia is rampant, corruption in public life is a given, and fascism has been largely re-evaluated in a positive light.

    My Egyptian friends used to say “we love your country, you are like us, we know we’ll eventually become a great country like Italy, it’ll just take a bit of time”. Oh, the irony.

  10. Little note for non-Italians: the many sex scandals of mr. B may be those that caused the biggest public outcry, but the real problem are his other crimes. The man is currently awaiting (better: escaping) trial for niceties such as: corruption, abuse of power, pedophilia, international trafficking, election rigging, mafia involvement, insulting the Constitution and assassination.

    1. Pedophilia? That’s news to me. I only know about the case of the Moroccan night club dancer, who was 17 at the alleged incident.

      (Which, at least according to Wikipedia, shouldn’t be a problem, as the age of consent would appear to be 16 in this case.)

  11. Thank you BB for giving the coverage this event deserved but in my opinion nothing but armed revolt can change what our ruling class is doing. Over here corruption is radicated everywhere, not just in the government. The so called opposition has helped Berlusconi many times to approve laws that allowed him to stay away from courts.

    If only we had one tenth the guts Egyptians showed just a few days ago that would be easy. Unfortunately our history shows how we are a bunk of sheeple always ready to gather behind the craziest idiot talking from a balcony but also willing to flock away immediately when things go wrong.

    1. With all due respect, the massive amount of unemployment in Egypt might have had something to do with it. I suspect that if like circumstances happened, there would be a similiar effect.

  12. Don’t think that this is all about a sex scandal for the Italians. They’ve been enduring this sack of shit for years. The bunga bunga parties are a snowflake setting off an avalanche. He’s been no friend to Italy; only himself. Basta! Basta!

  13. I was at the Rome demo today with my daughter. It was quite fun and felt good to not feel so isolated. Jasmina, I’m not sure why you are calling this a flash mob, since it was planned in advance and the site was well known to everyone, including the media. I’m not sure why this term is being used in this context. Could you expand? Thanks!

  14. This isn’t just about the creepy antics of Berlusconi in the bedroom. The more important thing to take note of this fact that Berlusconi owns and controls a huge chunk of the Italian media, who are happy to run interference and cover up for him. It’s hard to have any type of half way decent democracy without a hint of a free press.

  15. Sounds like they want to go back to an old-fashioned (conservative?) dynamic between men and women. Chivalry and Chastity and what not…

    Of course those are both dead concepts, but that doesn’t mean it should be 24/7 hookers and blow at the Presidential Palace…

  16. @Antonio Lopez – It is called a flashmob because the only media that talked (and are talking) about the demonstration were two newspapers: La Repubblica and Il Fatto Quotidiano.

    NO othere “official” media even remotely suggested what was about to happen, while the Net was in full organizative mode.

  17. I agree with those two people’s signs: “If not now, when?” How long should people deal with the horseshit dealt them by their leaders?

  18. Women toppled their rich, remote, corrupted regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

    I know women had a large role in the Egyptian protests, but I hadn’t heard anything of women being a driving role in the Tunisian protests. Indeed, my mother, who has worked in Tunisia for the past decade, just remarked to me yesterday at how disappointed she was that the Tunisian protests had so little women participating (or being allowed to participate) compared with the Egyptian.

    What sources do you have for women playing a large role in Tunisia?

  19. Just so I have this straight: using a trumped up sex scandal to go Berlussconi because you don’t like him – good. Using a trumped up sex scandal to go after Assange because they don’t like him – bad.

    1. Leaving aside the second part of your comment, and leaving aside the question of whether or not it’s appropriate to use a sex scandal to bring down a corrupt politician, “trumped up” does not apply. There are plenty of photos of foreign ‘dignitaries’ wandering naked and occasionally erect among the hookers at Berlusconi’s pool parties. There’s no need for any trumping.

  20. This article refers to him over and over as a dictator. I’m not Italian, but I was under the impression that he was a popular and legitimately elected leader, albeit a corrupt one. Am I mistaken, or is he indeed still in power because the Italian electorate has thus far chosen to keep him?

    1. No, you are not mistaken. While it is more than alarming that he has so much control over media – both private and public – there is little doubt that he got elected in fair election.

      “Dictator” seems to be the new “the guy I didn’t vote for” and “regime” the new “administration I don’t like.”

      1. He was obviously elected by a majority, so OK.

        But he’s obviously abused his power to reduce the quality of TV information and repeatedly tried to pass laws to avoid being judged — I have to remind you that he was found guilty of at least judge corruption in the Mills case, but he managed to get the statute of limitations ot work for him. He wasn’t “acquitted”, like aligned media said.

        I think the word “regime” is justified.

        You can’t say it’s OK to be elected by the majority and then diss the judiciary. Democracy is all of this; you can’t pick and choose.

        1. Oh,I do think that he’s a crook and that he will get his sooner or later, via the rule of law. And of course, if a couple of Million Italians protest and manage to force him to step down, that would be just swell.

          Yes, that he own most of TV is a design error, the US, I believe, would have him relinquish control as long as he is in office. However, look also at the US: There’s Fox, happily campaigning for the Republican, w/out Murdoch being the president.

          Considering that a regime doesn’t just rely on market shares, but controls nearly all of the media, doesn’t allow real oppostion, sends out police to rough up protestors en large, I cannot bring myself to accept that term for the administration and government of Italy, no matter how corrupt and morally represenhsible it appears to be. It very much belittles the efforts of the Egyptian, Tunisian, East German, Hungarian, etc people, who went to streets to topple a very real regime.

          1. You have a point: no, our democracy is not sick enough to be called a regime in those terms, although abuse of power has been a staple of Italian politics from day one (recently the Genova G8 and former president Cossiga’s serious — public! — suggestion that the governments should infiltrate agent provocateurs in manifestations so the can send the anti-riot police in come to mind).

            We can still vote him out; however, he has a Murdoch-like grip on media that ensures his target demographics (low-education, middle- and high-income, especially those prone to seeing the world in a “us vs. them” mentality such as Catholics or the post-fascist) only receive the news he wants them to hear. In a stroke of genius, he basically has a grip on the same forces/demographics that in the US have gone to create the Tea Party. And this group of people is the majority. And doesn’t give a bit that the economy is slowly circling the drain, or that Fiat can now reduce the rights of their workers below the minimum with the government saying nary a word, or that there’s a continuous hemorrhage of Italian talent and capitals to other countries.

            I just wish we had an effective, non-colluded opposition. Why the heck didn’t they pass the oft-proposed conflict-of-interest law? One has to wonder. Or why they don’t have any generational turnover (the leadership’s been the same in the last thirty years). Or why… (insert long list of misgivings here).

  21. Millions? When I check the German press, even those highly critical of Berlusconi – I see numbers of 100,000 or 100,000s at most.

    Someone is of by a order of magnitude.

  22. After a cursory glance at wikipedia, I think it’s safe to say that politics in Italy are FUBAR’ed. Don’t get me wrong, I think politics in general are FUBAR, by their very nature.

    I don’t know whether to celebrate that Italians elected someone with his judicial or to be appalled. Celebrate since you are innocent until proven guilty. Appalled, because his criminal/judicial history is so fucking sketchy even taking that into account. He was found guilty on 7 years worth of charges, all of which were thrown out on a technicality (statute of limitations ran out during the trial/appeals process). Numerous other trials were thrown out on the same grounds. Several of which were allegations of bribing judges. He’s involved in several trials right now involving the judiciary’s favorite ‘trumped up’ charges, bribery to influence a judicial procedure and corruption.

    Really? This shit doesn’t make any sense. How the fuck do you get up the stones to elect someone who’s involved in an ongoing criminal investigations? He’s a crook. He’s obviously a crook. I don’t even. What is this?

  23. I live in Italy. Berlusconi owns ALL the major private TV stations and Newspapers, and controls all of the public (government run) channels. Most people here do not read the newspaper at all, and get all of their information from the TV. Therefore, they get a rose-colored picture of this ‘poor, victimized’ Prime Minister and they continue to vote for him. The protest was organized via internet, without any specific political backing, and I saw people from the left and the right – but only those who use the net and/or read the few independent newspapers.
    Please don’t discount this march as a silly, puritan movement – women here have been reduced to holding very few positions of power, and many of the women in the government were appointed by Berlusconi in exchange for sexual favors (a proven FACT, not an allegation). It is difficult enough for anyone to find a job here, and if you are a woman, you have to deal with the constant propositions to ‘perform extra duties’ or lose your job. You CAN avoid falling into that trap, but young girls now think it’s the only way to get what they want. Reinforce that enough on TV and in government and you have a generation of kids who are desperate, and think it’s ok to do whatever it takes to get where they want to go. Boys, too, by the way.
    The message was Berlusconi is the worst expression of a corrupt (the only reason he is not in jail is because he changed the laws so that all of his crimes fell beyond the statute of limitations)- macho-Latin lover society. Time to get rid of him.

  24. I went to the demo in Bologna yesterday, it was fun. I’d guesstimate about 10-15,000 people, 2/3 women. The diversity of women in the streets was fun to see – there was everything from bull dykes to women in fur coats and heels. (Imagine that in a San Francisco demo, they’d get sent home for dress code violations!) Seeing well-dressed older women leading obscene chants was rad.

    It’s a bit of a bummer that after all his corrupt dealings with P2, the mafia, &c &c that the sex scandal is what might bring him down, but I’ll take it. Corruption is nothing new in Italy but the humiliation Berlusconi has visited on the whole country is.

  25. I live in Italy. Adding to @millenomi: Berlusconi was elected by a majority, but the electoral law HE and HIS PEOPLE modified in order to win (YES. HE DID MODIFY IT!) is so crazy that, when we vote, we do not know WHO are we voting for. They are free to get our vote and reassign it to bring someone we NEVER heard about into Parliament. It’s so crazy that Calderoli, the ministry which did wrote the law, called it “PORCELLUM”, a Pig’s Work! He realized HIMSELF it is a law without any sense. And please remember that more than ONE THIRD of Italians are REFUSING to vote. A real electoral law should SEND HOME THEM ALL! Berlusconi IS NOT MY PRESIDENT.

  26. By the way: all this sex scandal talk is misguided.

    What Berlusconi does in his free time no one could care less, aside from any possible prostitution charges (he paid those girls). It would be enough to cause any leadership to be put into question in any other democratic country, and sure hasn’t helped his Catholic Church backing, and has obvious problems (eg., how can the Secret Service protect him if he continues bringing random people to what should be a high-security place?). But it’s generally speaking his own fricken business.

    Now, one night, the above-mentioned underage girl (“Ruby”) was caught stealing by the police and brought in for questioning; he phoned the commissioner in charge and, saying she was “Mubarak’s niece”, intimated her immediate release in the hands of a third party; without informing the attorney, the policemen did release the girl. This is an obvious breach of procedure falling under the felony of ‘concussione’ (graft, abuse of power) and is the one that Milan attorneys are pushing for, since they’ve basically got all the proof they needed served to them on a silver platter (the policemen have on record both the phone call and everything else that happened that night). The possibility of underage prostitution is just icing on the cake.

    (A note for US readers: unlike in the US, Italian attorneys must investigate all possible felonies that they could reasonably think happened — they cannot choose to drop a case; so when they found out a felony — the theft — could have been committed, they were *OBLIGATED BY LAW* to go check what the heck happened that night, hence the sex scandal. Protesting that they should’ve dropped the case as Berlusconi supporters do is stupid, because they can be prosecuted for aiding if they try.)

  27. (Although that Berlusconi supporters protest that attorneys should arbitrarily ignore law-established procedure is IMHO telling. Sigh.)

  28. Help us! Berlusconi is dangerous for italians and for all the world, he is the man that Mafia put in Italy government – he create a real “mafioso” regime – it’s a shame for honest italians

  29. thanks for your comments which make the big picture
    i ve written in my previous essay (essays) more on B scandal and rule!
    a couple of answers:the demo was called flash mob by the organzires themselves several times and it worked as one in some moments!
    As far as the numbers are concerned: at least a million was out there in the streets, i could see for myself all center of Torino blocked by people walking and for hours
    I was in Serbia, Belgrade when we toppled Milosevic and I learned how to count, since press never said anything about people in the streets
    i said millions also because it s a metaphor! I don’t know why Germans are underestimating the protest, interesting to know!

    1. A million is a Metaphor?

      Anyway, Turino as a region has 2,2 million people. (Unless its a metaphor in Wikipedia, of course.)

      So basically every 2nd person – from babe to elder – was there, protesting?

      1. You don’t understand a typical trait of any Italian manifestation: according to protesters, there were at least 1 million people on the streets; according to police, not more than 50000; according to the people who disagree with demonstrators, 20.

        The number of participants it’s become kind of a joke for us :-)

  30. Question is whether the scandal will be the beginning of the investigation of his more serious crimes (in other words, whether the loss of face and/or power will allow the whole story to be told), or whether it will become a “left cover” to which his downfall (should it come) will be exclusively attributed. His entire empire is built on corruption of the most seditious kind, quite apart from his historical and ongoing mafia support. He was member 1816 in P2. As a longstanding mafia conduit, connections to Banco Ambrosiano, the Calvi murder, Project Gladio and the entire dark underbelly of Italian post-war politics are almost certain, and investgation of same have only been restricted because of Silvio’s typical application of corruption.
    Here’s hoping the snowflake does lead to an avalanche.

  31. What probably our non-Italians friends don’t know is that Berlusconi is indeed a corrupted politician. But so are all the other politicians. He does not differ from them at all.

    Berlusconi was Prime Minister in 1994 for the first time, and in this 16 years the left-wing coalition won the election twice. They did exactely the same things Berlusconi did. The last left-wing Minister of Justice (in charge for the judicial system) was under investigation and, guess what?, he simply replaced the prosecutor (because hey, he could, why not?) and eventually all the charges were dropped.

    What you also probably don’t know is that the police and the judges are no less corrupted than Berlusconi. Not all of them, of course, but the system as a whole is corrupted and incapable and/or unwilling of fighting crime (you might have heard something about a thing called “mafia”). Therefore, any Italian knows that when a politician is investigated, it means that a political struggle is going on.

    Let’s put it this way: in Italy all the politicians act beyond the law, all of them. Many police officers and judges act beyond the law. When you hear that a politician is charged of something, it means that someone else decided to deliberately prosecute him, while ignoring all the others. And not for the sake of justice.

    Another thing that our non-Italian friends probably don’t know, is that the left-wing parties have been trying for years to find an agreement with Berlusconi. They tried virtually everything: at one point, one of the most important PM of the biggest left-party, a former judge and mafia-fighter, in front of all the Parliament, in front of the frigging cameras, complained that they promised not to interfere with Berlusconi’s television business when they had the majority of the seats, they kept the promise and then Berlusconi did not appreciated that. I swear, he was whining because they did everything for Berlusconi, and he did nothing for them in return.

    That’s why this kind of manifestations look a little naive when they blame Berlusconi for each and every problem, and they look like a bunch of hypocrites when they pretend that the other side is any different from Berlusconi

    1. What probably our non-Italians friends don’t know is that Berlusconi is indeed a corrupted politician. But so are all the other politicians. He does not differ from them at all. (…) When you hear that a politician is charged of something, it means that someone else decided to deliberately prosecute him, while ignoring all the others. And not for the sake of justice.

      Er, that’s a lot of crap, sorry. I’m not particularly familiar with the episode you mention (link please?), but chances are nobody is as corrupted as Silvio, if anything because nobody else built a media monopoly by corrupting judges and funnelling mafia money like he did.

      Right-wing types have tried for years to smear high-profile members of the opposition, with very little success; all their trumped-up “scandals” invariably ended up in smoke, and judge after judge threw out their trumped-up charges. Never the less, most of the accused individuals resigned their positions and cleared their names in court, like it should happen in a modern democracy.

      Berlusconi was investigated even before he entered the political debate, and not once he offered to resign. In fact, several journalists reported that he entered politics because his media empire was on the verge of financial collapse and his shady deals were coming under judicial scrutiny. Passing laws in his favour, retroactively absolving crimes he had committed (which in itself is scandalous) and closing the media market to new actors by law were the only way he could save his skin. The plan worked extremely well.

  32. This isn’t only about women, women’s rights or his juvenile prostitution. What the women and these public outcries are doing are trying to bring to light all the illegal, self-serving, destructive things that this man has done, and continues to do to his country and his people, while holding power. It’s about time that Italians properly stand up for themselves, and if these women (and men) are doing it – power to them! I am an expat living in Italy and I can assure you that this is NOT a good country to live in, not a country where women are respected or where citizens actually have a SAY. They have to endure and put up with whatever their horrible government does. It is a country run by corrupt, self-serving politicians – namely Berlusconi and his minions. They don’t care about Italians’ rights or well-being. It’s blatant and it’s enraging.

    Unfortunately there isn’t a decent alternative to Berlusconi; someone has to step up.
    For those not living in Italy, you can’t possibly understand the state of affairs there, the crap that people put up with, while their “leaders” live like sultans in what is supposed to be a democratic country. It isn’t. And Italians need to stand up for their rights and demand proper leadership for their country.

    I’m glad that these protests are happening, and hope that it will bring some change for the better.

  33. Corruption is the very essence of Italian politics. It has always been, long before Berlusconi even started his political career, and it will be when Berlusconi will eventually leave.

    And it’s not just the politics. It is the police, the judicial system and so on. You can blame it all on Berlusconi, if you like, but by doing so you are not facing the reality.

    This outbursts against the corruption of a political leader are not new in Italy: I saw it all. Sometimes they even managed to force a politician to quit, or to leave the country, but nothing changed. They got rid of the scapegoat and they thought that was a good thing.

    I guess you are Italian, so probably you know the story I mentioned about the Minister that had the prosecutor removed because he was investigating the Minister himself. Sure, there was no trial, as you correctly wrote, but the real question is “why no trial?”

    If you think that Berlusconi is the only problem we face in Italy, you are delusional. Berlusconi is the effect, not the cause.

    And btw, the media market you refer to is TV market. The TV market did not exist in Italy, because by law only the Parliament-controlled State-television was allowed to broadcast nation-wide. Berlusconi (again, illegally!) created the TV market in the Eighties with his televisions and, thanks to his political connection, he managed to keep it running.

    When Berlusconi got the majority in the Parliament, he did what all the political parties do: he gained control of the State-television. Yes, Berlusconi outsmarted the system set by the traditional parties, but it’s that system we should blame.

    And anyway, among the “lot of crap” I wrote in my comment, I also pointed out that the left-wing parties publicly promised Berlusconi not to touch his media monopoly when they had the possibility. And yet again, we cannot blame Berlusconi for that.

  34. A million total in Italy, it wasn’t a 1 city protest, but nationwide.. that said, a million is probably an overestimate.

    I said it before in the other thread about B, he’s not the disease, he’s just a symptom.. albeit a big one.

    Italian politicians are very good at running their mouths, and finding high paying jobs or government contracts for people close to them, but not much else. Very few of them chose not to take full advantage of the opportunities to flaunt the laws they themselves write, and even fewer would change the laws to prevent it.

    It’s a corrupt class, and the corruption is pretty endemic, extending down to local and city levels, getting rid of them would require that italians take responsibility for their leaders, and (at the very least) get out and vote..

    A good number of italians don’t even bother to do that.

  35. Several clarifications to the above comments and questions:

    * Pedophilia charge: There are at least three different proved instances of this 70-something man going to bed with minors, usually in exchange for a career in showbusiness – but also as a mafia manoeuver to blackmail him later. Anecdotal (i.e. not proved by hard facts in ongoing investigations, but with lots of witnesses available to testify) stories about further liaisions with even younger girls (less than 16 years old) abound, and even his former wife denounced this publicly.

    * Why is he in power: the election laws were damaged beyon repair by the man himself, but some figures will help understanding this. First you must understand that the vote goes to “coalitions” of parties, but the five main party leaders get to decide who makes the coalition, often AFTER the vote. Thus: Berlusconi was elected (30% votes) in a coalition including the AN party (12%), so he actually had just the 12% of the votes. But only voting people gave their opinion (many Italians just don’t bother, such elections being pointless). In fact, only 67% of voters cast their choice, making his actual share just 4 millions of Italians.
    Now compare this number with the number (about 18 M) of elder/unschooled/misinformed people whose information comes exclusively from Berlusconi-owned media, and you can see why he is on.

    * The “whining” debate – The prosecutor in question, now political opposition leader Antonio di Pietro, actually said that the Italian political scene is unacceptable, as Berlusconi got some self-serving laws passed thanks to the support of his opposition… just because he promised some paltry betterments in exchange.

    World, please save Italy from itself.

  36. I just read my comment
    i was not precise
    I didn’t mean Torino had one million people out, hahaha but
    all together participants in Italy were estimated more than one million
    in Torino twitter , la stampa Anna Masera reported 100 000
    and as i said, it sounds right given that it was all full of people
    however the expression “millions of people” is a way to say masses…
    believe me it was impressive

  37. Anon #36 • 11:40 PM, Feb 13 • Reply

    “Please don’t discount this march as a silly, puritan movement – women here have been reduced to holding very few positions of power, and many of the women in the government were appointed by Berlusconi in exchange for sexual favors (a proven FACT, not an allegation). It is difficult enough for anyone to find a job here, and if you are a woman, you have to deal with the constant propositions to ‘perform extra duties’ or lose your job. You CAN avoid falling into that trap, but young girls now think it’s the only way to get what they want. Reinforce that enough on TV and in government and you have a generation of kids who are desperate, and think it’s ok to do whatever it takes to get where they want to go. Boys, too, by the way.”

    Thanks for that perspective, it certainly puts the protest into a different light.

    1. Thanks for that perspective, it certainly puts the protest into a different light.

      Oh God, and now we are supposed to be a country where the majority of people is either sexually harassed or enjoy sexual harassment? Seriously?

      The author of this post is writing the same way old women talked about young women back in the sixties, the only difference is that in the past they used to say “we should slap them whores in the face”, while now they say “poor whores, they are such desperate whores”. It’s more compassionate, but still they are calling them prostitutes.

      I can assure you that Italians are not turning into prostitutes and they do not obtain their jobs and salaries in exchange of sexual favours. Just because newspapers are all about the President’s girls, people like the author think that the real world became a big brothel, which is definitely not the case. Tomorrow newspapers will talk about something else, and there will manifestation against something else.

      1. Holy crap, reactionary much?? How did you read all of that nonsense (into) my short post? I took the first post (that I responded to) as an indicator that the culture presented under, and/or by, Berlusconi (thru TV control) may be somewhat patriarchal, or sexist, but you somehow interpreted that as (me) seeing all Italian woman as prostitutes?

        The 60’s women’s movement that promoted female sexual freedom, and equality in general, was not about advocating for women being objectified or used. I took the prior poster’s comments as an indicator that Berlusconi did this, not that the Italian women at large wanted to slap ‘whores’ or conversely wanted to be ‘whores’. In other words, they want the Italian woman respected, beyond their sexual desirability. You can be a ‘whore’ (your word, which says something here) all you want, provided that that is a choice and not a limited option for advancement, wealth or appreciation. Perhaps these women see their leader placing the highest value of women on their appearance and on his own sexual gratification, rather than highlighting or advancing other abilities. That may make them feel as if their options are stymied unless they are in on the ‘game’.

        It would seem from many posters and news stories that his governing is highly corrupt. It wouldn’t take a leap of faith to assume that he is using all sorts of people; men and women alike, sexually or not.

        1. Not at all, I did not mean that. Probably I wasn’t clear enough, and my English does not help in this. I apologize if I gave you the idea that I was accusing you of anything.

          What I was trying to say is that Jasmina describes present Italy in a totally unrealistic way and, since you found her perspective interesting, I was trying to counter-balance her grotesque portrait of my country.

          In Italy what Jasmina wrote is a typical reactionary statement (modern girls are prostitutes, look at their clothes, look at their jobs, our good old society is doomed and so on) expressed in a more “liberal” way (they are prostitutes, but they are forced to, society made them what they are).

          If you ever visit Italy, you will soon realize that it is simply not true. We have normal lives, with normal jobs. We have our problems, and Italy is far from being the perfect country to live in – Berlusconi is a proof. But it does not mean that girls and boys have to sleep with their employer if they want to get a job.

          Sure, there is a fraction of girls that live in a gray area between the “regular” jobs and the prostitution; but they are a small minority and they cannot be considered a good example of the Italian way of life. There is a long “tradition” of politicians giving jobs and money and some degree of power to their mistresses and it’s much older than Berlusconi and it’s not even statistically relevant.

          Another thing that might sound strange to a foreigner, is the typical Italian habit of thinking about our country as the worst place in the world, ever. Don’t ask me why, but we like to consider ourselves as an hopeless, uncivilized nation. And we say that to the others.

          So there are a lot of BB’s in the world that read an article like this one and believe that we have the most horrible blood-thirsty dictatorship in the history of humanity, because all the Italians say so. But when an Italian speaks about Italian politics, you have to filter very carefully what they say, because 80% is pure exaggeration.

          I hope I made my point this time around :-)

          1. Americans complain quite in the same way. It isn’t a perfect system here, by a long stretch (we have plenty of corruption ourselves), but we could do a lot worse, so your point is well taken. And I believe I did look at that post I initially responded to through that same filter of how we complain here.

            Perception of a leader’s values (what they value, or don’t; I’m not talking morals) has a psychological effect on the citizens. The frustration is amplified due to the person’s power and control, and so in response, you will see global statements. It is similar to that argument that you might have with your significant other: you “never help do”…blah blah blah,” you always do”…blah blah blah. In reality, you may do some of those things (that you were accused of) a good amount of the time, hardly ever, or not do certain things a good amount of the time, or hardly ever etc., but usually if it is brought up in an argument, it has occurred at least on one occasion, and possibly more of the time.

            An injustice is remembered in a relationship, but its effect is more significant and painful when one in governmental control perpetrates some act of injustice, or demonstrates bias, or places a lower value on some subset of society. It will be perceived as a threat to that group. And it might well be a threat. Again, I don’t think this person was condemning Italy, or even prostitutes, making the point that they weren’t morally condemning the sexual acts, (thus not puritan), but that they didn’t want to become devalued, or made insignificant, thus being subjected to less opportunity or options. It didn’t register as a judgment per se, to me. But, clearly, I would say that there was fear.

  38. For all you haters who think Berlusconi is an innocuous sexist whose private life has nothing to do with the public good, check out “Il Corpo delle Donne” (, a short documentary about his influence on how women are portrayed on TV (which he owns a monopoly). The video is subtitled in English and is only 25 minutes long. I think it will open your eyes.

  39. The trouble is that in most social-democratic european countries, since a lot of money pass through the State, the whole politic class is highly corrupted (and the political orientation is not the problem) – hence the progression of populists parties in Europe (Front National, Vlaams Belang, Schweizerische Volkspartei, British National Party, Alleanza Nazionale, Sverigedemokraterna, etc.) and the generic denial of democracy (in France, a lot of laws are made by little more than 20 deputies in Assemblée Nationale – in the last presidential election, there was almost 20 % of people which didn’t care to vote and almost 25 % that voted for far-left and far-right candidates).
    So, maybe Berlusconi will be housted by the street. But I can’t see why his successor would be better than him.

  40. This is really kind of ridiculous!
    So Berlusconi can have Mafia ties, kick the law with his feet, then simply change it to avoid prosecution for his crimes – but his private sex life, now THAT is something to get upset about!
    I’m confus! Should I smile or sob?

  41. Because Italy is not Egypt. Of course truth and freedom have to be the way. Contiunue to keep informed the people!!In Italy there’s a lack of information, or information is mostly controlled by Berlusconi and his friends. We need that! Info and speakin’ out on the net!!

    By the way Berlusconi is the big problem now, but, after that, Italy have to grow up.

    Alessandro Vitali

  42. I agree that if the opposition had a vision and there are plenty of visions to be had just none expressed then there could be a
    chance of voting him out.


    Outside of elections which are at best of poor quality the manner of Italian society is in many ways worse than Egypt.
    The things that are wrong with Egypt can and will be divorced
    from the system over the next couple of years. In contrast the
    things that are wrong with Italy are sewn into a gigantic spider’s web of blood vein corruption within the system.
    Over the years people in Northern Europe and North America
    would ridicule Italy with the joke of 50 governments in 50 years.
    This joke was wrong because it was seriously mistaken. For most
    of the post WWII period you had in fact ONE GOVERNMENT and a series of what we British call cabinet reshuffles…the so-called constant change in government were nothing more than
    glorified cabinet reshuffles. Furthermore declassified US documents have confirmed that from 1946 to the early 1980’s
    at least the CIA was involved in the rigging of Italian elections
    so not so different than Egypt then !!

    If there a difference between Italy and Egypt it is this.

    In Egypt the Mafia was an arm of the dictatorship.
    In Italy the government is an arm of the Mafia.

    That’s your problem !! And its worse !!

    HSM Manchester UK

  43. The massive effect of leaving “el ojo gordo” (spanish) for, a blind eye, to the guy who is supposed to be managing the laws of your land. While I agree that Berlusconi should be removed from his rather tyrannical leadership, I can’t agree completely that the same mobs that protest aren’t at fault. As they say, it takes two to tango. In this case it took thousands. My question is, why is it that now the Italian people want to rescue their dignity? Why not beforehand? I believe people should learn a no tolerance policy on pathetically shallow politicians and on would be dictators, and abusers of power. This scandal is nothing more than the same crap happening all over the world in a different way. Vote him out, or for my humor, lynch him.

Comments are closed.