Italian Elections and Silvio Berlusconi

Federiga Bindi
Federiga Bindi Former Brookings Expert

April 23, 2008


So Silvio Berlusconi won again. He not only won, he won with an overwhelming majority. Most opinion polls were expecting a hung parliament with a divided majority, but apparently many people who were afraid to express their support for Berlusconi voted for him anyway. The fourth Berlusconi government is thus scheduled to be sworn into office in early May, much to the delight of the international press who will be able once again to report on his highly entertaining gaffes, both past and future.

Yet, these elections deserve greater attention, because they could have a lasting impact on Italy’s future. They could in fact close the cycle that opened with the end of the Cold War, concluding Italy’s transformation into a full-fledged, functioning democracy. However, as was the case in the early 1990s when many had similar hopes for the country, the new government must act quickly and in accordance with the people’s desire for change. Silvio Berlusconi, now 71, has a unique opportunity to fulfill his proclaimed dream of reforming the country. He has nothing to lose as he cannot expect — if only because of his age — to run again for Prime Minister. If he were to achieve the goal of changing Italy, he could then try for the Presidency of the Republic, a well-known desire of his.