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Berlusconi says in Italy's democracy governing is “a living hell” PDF Print E-mail
Jun 10, 2010 at 11:39 PM

ImageOkay. So he wasn't quite that explicit. But he did say (and I head him with my own little ears) that governing under Italy's postwar Constitution - its "institutional architecture" was how he put it - was an "inferno", ( a "hell") making it clear that the Italian prime minister, whom many suspect of subliminal dictatorial tendencies, does not understand the concept of checks and balances which is, after all, the essence of a democratic system.

On Thursday, addressing Confartigianato a business association, Berlusconi described lawmaking in Italy as intolerable, with draft bills going from Senate to House and back, with stops in this or that committee, until final approval (just like happens in any other democracy). He won applause when he said all this took too much time (although he neglected to mention that this is probably also because of poor parliamentary leadership and the fact that Italian MPs, who make more money than most of their European counterparts, only work two and a half days a week) and, added that, even worse, there was always the risk that after all this frustrating to-ing and fro-ing, something even more outrageous might happen: the Constitutional Court (manned by the magistrates he blames for all of Italy's troubles) might strike down the "laws it doesn't like". In other words, he also does not understand the idea of constitutionality and the importance it has for a democratic nation.

The premier, who stopped short of saying he'd prefer one-man rule, claimed that the 1946 Constitution's apportionment of power between the various institutions reflected the negative influence of the postwar period when Communists and Christian Democrats here carried on their own little Cold War and didn't trust one another. Things are different today, he insisted, and so the Constitution should be changed.

Of course, he totally failed to mention another salient fact. That the men and women of the Constituent Assembly that wrote and passed the Constitution after Italy was finally liberated by Allied forces and anti-fascist partisans, were also trying to make sure that down the line Italy would not have another 20 years of Fascism. The "ventennio", as it is called here, ended only when dictator Benito Mussolini was deposed after taking the country into war on the side of Nazi Germany.

Berlusconi's comments were roundly attacked by opposition leaders and pundits.

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