A man who destroyed the economy, does not command the confidence of the market, and faces allegations of both corruption and sleaze, is not the sort of person that you want to be running a country. However, Silvio Berlusconi, the man who led Italy into a massive economic crisis, is currently hoping to regain control over the Italian government. His comeback in the polls in largely due to his promises of tax cuts, as well as his controversial but popular personality.
The centre-left bloc had been expected to win the election, and is offering a continuation of the sound economic measures initiated by the the technocratic Prime Minister, Mario Monti, but promising to engage in reforms that would protect Italy. They seem like a solid, stable choice in an unstable time. Yet a surprising number of voters have flooded back to the old way of doing things, embracing the ageing Berlusconi, who seems to be an expert in not avoiding scandal.
Italy needs a government that works, and its frustration at the old ways of doing things has been shown in the 25% vote for a protest movement led by a comedian. This vote of discontent has been so strong that any government will probably need its support in order to take power, something that it is unlikely to offer to the polarizing figure of Berlusconi. After all, he is the symbol of everything that they are protesting against: corruption and economic recklessness.
While the centre-left’s commitment to sound economic policy, instead of abandoning austerity through tax cuts, has pushed many votes away as well, they will hopefully be able to gather enough support from other parties in order to prevent Berlusconi from taking power. They will, at least, play a role in limiting the damage that a Berlusconi government would do.
If Europe is going to be able to move forward, then countries such as Italy must vote for the sensible change that they need, and not turn back to the old leaders that put us in this mess in the first place. We don’t need people who are more about popularity than they are about good leadership.
Currently, in Italy, there is a political deadlock between the centre-left and centre-right, with the two blocs neck and neck. Exactly who will end up in charge is not yet know, but we have to hope that Italy makes a step forward and manages to return to the growth that it needs in order to get back on its feet. Only time will tell what will happen.