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La Pietra Dialogues On the World On-Line
La fine del Cavaliere (The Knight´s End) ?
Nicole D´Alessio, NYU ´17
La Pietra Dialogues
November 18, 2013

On September 16, 2013, political scientists Roberto D’Alimonte and Alessandro Chiaramonte gathered before an audience of students and professors to examine recent political developments in Italy. Just a few days prior, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was found guilty of tax fraud, but since Berlusconi is older than 75, Chiaramonte explained, according to Italian law his prison sentence will be commuted to either community service or house arrest. Chiaramonte noted that Berlusconi’s situation was unusual: “In a normal democracy, anyone convicted of a crime should step down immediately, but the final vote [on Berlusconi’s eligibility to hold a senate seat] will remain on the floor of the senate for three weeks.” The panelists presented convincing data that if Italians continue to vote Berlusconi into office there would be many negative effects: during Berlusconi’s tenure unemployment rates rose and there was negative GDP growth. Still, D’Alimonte believes that the end of Berlusconi’s political career is approaching, stating that “It is not Berlusconi’s legal problems that will put an end to our problems; it is him being put to an end at the ballot box.” Matteo Renzi, he says, “can put an end to the Berlusconi era if the Democratic Party picks him as a candidate.” A student asked what stands in the way of Renzi’s election. “His victory relies on the destruction of the left’s insubordination and lack of vision,” D’Alimonte declared. Another audience member challenged the idea that Renzi would be substantially different from Berlusconi. This prompted an interesting, somewhat heated exchange between D’Alimonte and two Italian NYU Florence professors. The professors argued that Renzi’s policy positions, in an attempt to be centrist, stray from the values of the traditional party. The professors noted similarities between Renzi and Berlusconi’s political rhetoric and speaking styles, which they argued suggest the same empty platform promises. D’Alimonte replied, “We cannot allow Berlusconi to win because Renzi is not good enough for [us]. My top priority is to get us away from Berlusconi.” Largely due to Berlusconi’s law-breaking blunders and the rising popularity of Matteo Renzi, the prevailing opinion from both speakers was that Italy is finally reaching the end of The Berlusconi Era.

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