Many happy returns to Silvio Berlusconi, celebrating his birthday. Well wishers (or spin-doctors?) on the Forza Italia official site posted gloriously over the top messages of congratulation: “Don’t give up President, you’re the only idol left in this disgusting world. Save us from Prodi and Bertinotti [left-wing opponents] – Many Happy Returns!”.
Such devotion (let’s not go over the top, calling it a ‘cult of personality’) to a political leader is nowadays rare, outside North Korea.
When meeting with Juventus boss Luciano Moggi recently, Silvio handed him a book entitled Berlusconi ti odio [Berlusconi I hate you], a compliation of all the insults directed his way over the years. The saviour of the nation said dejectedly, “Look Luciano, look how the left treat me”.
And so, on the occasion of his illustrious birthday, it seems opportune to point out that this column has nothing personal against Silvio. On the contrary, he has provided much light hearted relief to this monkey over the last two years. No one cracks a joke like the Italian prime minister, whether intentional or not. His recurrent appearance in the column is not fuelled by any badmindedness, grudge, jealousy, or left wing leaning.
Opposition to Berlusconi is not a personal thing, but is rather based on a clear principle that should apply to all. The people making and modifying the laws of a country should not directly profit from the action. If you own almost half of the national tv broadcasters, you shouldn’t be involved in regulating broadcasting. If you’re under investigation for financial irregularities, you shouldn’t be involved in legislation lessening the penalties for false accounting.
It’s nothing personal. Just a question of good and bad government.
Tanti Auguri Silvio.