Disgraced former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may have left Italy high and dry when it came to dealing with the country’s debt problems, but he isn’t leaving the nation without something to remember him by: On Wednesday, his last official day in office, Berlusconi released his long-awaited album of love songs to a grateful public.
Meanwhile, new Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, the technocrat tasked with righting Italy’s ship of state, is expected to lay out his reform plans ahead of a confidence vote in the Senate on Thursday. Monti put together his cabinet on Wednesday, cobbled together from Italy’s most respected technocrats, academics and administrators; and he started his premiership “comforted by an opinion poll that said an overwhelming majority of Italians supported him”, Reuters reported. But a new cabinet and his reforms alone won’t be enough to rebuild market confidence, analysts say.
Berlusconi’s love songs. True Love is an album of sexy love songs entirely penned by the 75-year-old former PM and sung by his friend, Mariano Apicella; lyrics include “I run my hands down your side, because it’s you. I adore you and I already miss you” and “another day of wind and rain, another night without you”, the AFP reported. It’s in keeping, of course, with Berlusconi’s reputation as a “ladies’ man”, if someone accused of soliciting sex from an underage prostitute and hosting “bunga bunga” sex parties can be considered as such.
Shaky video of Berlusconi singing – he’s not bad.
Is this really the last of Berlusconi? Sure, he’s packed up his things – including a sword from Kazakhstan and pictures of himself with former US President George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI – and he’s given back all that priceless art he borrowed. But is Berlusconi really leaving? Probably not, judged James Walston at Foreign Policy’s Dispatch blog. In his farewell message that wasn’t really a farewell, Berlusconi declared that he would not give up politics, a sentiment being reinforced by his army of supporters in the media and on the street. He’s also pointed out that he actually survived the last confidence vote, meaning that his party still has a majority – Monti, it appears, serves at his pleasure. “He is not the retiring type,” noted Walston.
Can the technocrats cure the contagion? Maybe not. Berlusconi could easily come thundering back if Monti’s attempt to corralling Italy’s spiraling debt goes wrong. Though the new PM is enjoying the support of Italians now, the fact that none in his cabinet were elected to their positions may prove difficult when it comes time to pass new taxes, cut pensions, or make any of the really hard austerity changes, Reuters reported. James Saft, columnist for Reuters, stated plainly that the technocrat governments both in Italy and in Greece simply can’t cure or even contain the contagion: “The prospect of two new avowedly technocratic governments and fresh pledges and plans for austerity proved not enough to stem contagion in the euro zone, as the financing drought spread beyond Greece and Italy to Spain.”
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