Convicted criminal Silvio Berlusconi returns to Italian politics as a kingmaker

Silvio Berlusconi, a misogynist, racist creep-authoritarian who was caught paying a teenager for sex and then lied to cops to get them to stop investigating the case, is banned from holding public office in Italy thanks to a criminal conviction for fraud; but that hasn't kept Italy's media (a large slice of which he controls) from elevating him to the role of political kingmaker in the country's upcoming elections.

Berlusconi was a kind of prototype for Trump (though apparently Berlusconi hates the comparison): a teflon strongman whose bad deeds refused to stick. Now, older Italians are flocking to Berlusconi for political wisdom as the country's electoral politics are challenged by the insurgent (and mixed-bag) Five-Star Movement, as well as open neo-Fascist elements.

Berlusconi has emerged as a spokesman and unifier for Italy's anti-immigrant, authoritarian forces, much as Trump did in the USA.

If the Five Star Movement has grown as digital media darling, Mr. Berlusconi is unapologetically old media. But that might just still work in a country where more than 20 percent of the population is 65 or older.

“You win an election on television,” Mr. Fede said.

Almost nightly, Mr. Berlusconi is on air calmly excoriating members of the Five Star Movement as inexperienced know-nothings and the modern incarnation of Communists taking orders from a Milanese Politburo.

While “aesthetic treatments” physically turned Mr. Berlusconi into “another person,” Mr. Fede said, “the thing that he hasn’t lost, which is very important, is his voice.” And television channels to speak on.

Berlusconi Is Back. Again. This Time, as Italy’s ‘Nonno’ [Jason Horowitz/NYT]

(via Super Punch)

(Image: Trump's Hair; Ricardo Stuckert, CC-BY)