Italians demonstrate against Berlusconi
February 17, 2011
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Italy is putting its foot down.
Bribing tax authorities. False bookkeeping. Illegal party contributions. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has had his fair share of skeletons in his political closet. Recently, he has added just one more blemish to his record.
On Tues, Feb. 15, a Milan judge ruled that Berlusconi will be put on trial to face charges relating to prostitution and abuse of office, reports The New York Times.
The New York Magazine reveals that Berlusconi paid a 17-year-old prostitute and then used his political power to get her released from police custody in an unrelated matter. Prostitution convictions can lead to jail time ranging from six months to three years. Abuse of power can lead to four years to 12 years.
While Berlusconi has been able to handle his past accusations, he may not be able to save his political office this time. The New York Times detailed the results of the December vote that led to the conclusion that Berlusconi no longer has the majority vote to be capable of governing.
Berlusconi’s scandal has led to an uprising of Italian citizens — many of them women. According to Times Union, on Sunday, Feb. 13, thousands of women turned up in 200 Italian cities to protest “Berlusconi’s debasing of women.”
Not only did women show up at the demonstration, but men as well, reports the Guardian.
“I’m going to demonstrate against a prime minister accused of entertaining underage girls, against a culture that exploits women, against Italian men who made endless sexual jokes and brag about wasting lots of time looking at naked women on the web,” said Mario Calabresi, deputy editor of La Stampa. “In short, I’m going to demonstrate against myself too.”
The New York Times discloses that many believe that Berlusconi’s situation is not just about sex. It relates to Italy’s economic problems, that are beginning to shadow Greece and Ireland’s economic issues late last year and early this year. However, there is the issue as to who will be Berlusconi’s successor.
“The problem is simply that the Italians can’t imagine who could replace Berlusconi at the moment,” novelist and commentator Tim Parks told The New York Times. “It’s too dangerous and too much effort to replace him. So it hardly matters how bad the scandal is.”
Berlusconi’s trial is set for April 6.