NOTIZIARIO del 4 settembre 2003


Questi gli stralci degli articoli dello Spectator incriminati:

The new imperial vision of Silvio Berlusconi
di Nicholas Farrel

The Spectator began by asking Berlusconi whether he has mended fences with Chancellor Schröder, after he likened the German Social Democrat MEP, Martin Schulz, to a Nazi camp commandant? It was I who was offended, my government and my country. I replied with a joke. I wanted to be humorous. The whole of the parliament laughed. My reply was taken and exploited against me.


The Italian reality The Italian reality, to he who is familiar with it, is that Italy is an absolute democracy with one or two anomalies. One is that we have an opposition that is not altogether democratic because it is made up of the same people who were communists and protagonists of the Italian Communist party which was of Stalinist origin. Another anomaly which is not known abroad is that we have an extremely politicised judiciary. And the third anomaly is that there is strong disinformation on the part of the press. Just read Repubblica, just read Unità, they are newspapers completely at the service of the Left. If you read Unità, you think you are living under a tyranny.

What is the proof that we have a completely politicised judiciary? The declarations of the judges themselves. In one of their organisations — Magistratura Democratica — they have publicly declared that their members must use the legal system to topple the bourgeois state. On the leftist conspiracy The situation in Italy cannot be understood by a foreigner unless he takes into account the recent history of Italian politics. For half a century Italy was governed by a coalition of five parties which were by origin democratic and pro-West: the Christian Democrats, the Socialists, the Republicans, the Social Democrats and the Liberal party.
Unfortunately, this Italian system has produced 57 governments in little more than 50 years. I am the 57th government, and for the first time in 50 years I have a large majority in both houses of parliament. What happened was that in 1992, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Communist party, the Left, that had been defeated by history, instead of being put on trial at least for their moral complicity with the crimes of the communist regimes from Stalin to Pol Pot to Milosevic — which they had always supported — they always had a fatal attraction for dictatorship....

Communists everywhere They were not prosecuted because the Left had infiltrated their men in all the nodal points of the state; that is, the schools, the papers, the TV stations, the magistracy, in the central nervous system of the state. Instead of being prosecuted, they used their infiltration not to stand trial, but to put all the other parties, which history had proved right, on trial.

Why he entered politics I entered politics with great sorrow, but I thought in 1994 that the extreme Left would have been a serious disaster for Italy. The parties of the Left controlled 34 per cent of the votes, but they had more than 80 per cent of the seats in parliament because the other parties — the five parties that had governed Italy for 50 years — were wiped out. I was the most popular man in Italy because I made commercial TV out of zero, and I was an important businessman because I was a man of sports with many victories. I had five teams — and not just in soccer, but in hockey, volleyball, rugby — and they were victorious in all the Italian and world championships. I had built small towns and I was the proprietor of the second biggest chain of supermarkets — all Italians knew it. I was in charge of a popular movement, and people were saying, ‘You are our only hope of not having a left-wing government.’

Why do Italian commentators attack him? I think there is an element of jealousy in all of these people because I cannot find another explanation. All these journalists — Biagi, Montanelli — were older than me and felt they were the important ones in our relationship, and then the relationship was turned upside-down and I became what they themselves wanted to be.


Is he confident of brokering a deal on the European convention? I think the only way forward is to approve that which has emerged from the Giscard convention exactly as it is, perhaps with one or two changes, but that is all. Italy is naturally favourable to the introduction of a reference to Europe’s Christian culture, or Judaeo-Christian culture, but there are only four countries which support this clause: Italy, Spain, Holland and Poland. We want it, but, frankly, I don’t think it will be possible. It would be a good thing if we had a common foreign policy, if Europe had a single voice, but I know that at the moment this is not possible.

Why did he support the war in Iraq? We had many doubts about the necessity of this war, and we tried to avoid it, but when we saw that the US and England, our traditional allies, had decided to make war, we were in solidarity with them. For example, if a brother goes into a certain business and for three months I say, ‘I beg you not to do it’, and when he does it — well, he is my brother, and I support him, even if not to the point of paying for all his losses! And I have done the same thing with the US. We are alive today because of the US, and it was the US who liberated us from Nazism and communism and supported our economic growth. We have lived for 50 years under their protective umbrella because they spent 4 per cent of their GDP on protecting us against the Soviet Union, and we spent only 1.5 per cent of our GDP. So we have a sense of gratitude which is absolute, absolute.


So why does the Economist think he is unfit to govern Italy? The Economist has made a big and fundamental mistake in confusing the cops and the robbers. It has taken the protectors of democracy and liberty — us — for the robbers, and it has taken the robbers for cops. It has jumbled it all up. I have never in my life taken a penny out of politics. I have put my money into politics, yes, by financing Forza Italia. I don’t dare to telephone my group, because a single telephone operator might say, ‘Berlusconi’s calling.’ As for the conflicts of interest, it is all the other way round, because I had to sell all my system of big stores because the communists didn’t want to buy from me and they had a BB — boycott Berlusconi — strategy. The left-wing authorities wouldn’t give me any new permits to build stores, and I didn’t ask from the Right because it would have been thought I had an interest, so my sons decided to sell the lot.

Is it right to pass a law exempting oneself from prosecution? You have to understand that I have had more than 500 visits from the Guardie di Finanze [inland revenue police] to my group, that I have had more than 90 investigations. You have to ask, what is the remedy if an entire procura [investigating magistratura], in Milan and Palermo, does nothing else except invent theories about me? What is the remedy if they keep asking me to go to court, or keep having me have meetings with my lawyers? Do I govern or do I respond continually to all these accusations? It is impossible. Only 8 per cent of Italians have faith in this magistratura. This is what must be understand that the Economist has not yet understood. Only 8 per cent. So this seemed the only possible remedy.... Not cases closed but suspended during the period of service to the state. I was against it. I didn’t want it.... But then they tell me (I have won all my cases — eh — only one remained, only one) that the Milan judges are doing exactly what they did in 1994.
In 1994 my government fell because they accused me of corruption and then I was acquitted after six years. But they made my government fall for that, and they changed the course of Italian history not with the truth, but with false accusations. And now the same judges, from the same courts, make the same false accusations!


The Italians don’t believe it. They believe me.

They don’t believe the Economist? No! They knew all this. I won the election with this case already taking place, with all the TV against me. The Italians believed me and they didn’t believe the judges. But why don’t people understand this abroad? I think that 80 per cent of journalists are left-wing, and they have very close relations with the foreign press, and they all have a club in Rome. I don’t give press conferences to the foreign press because they just use it as an opportunity to attack me. They don’t take any account of what I say or do. They write what they have already in their heads. They don’t understand about our judiciary. Look at what happened to Andreotti, who was sentenced to 20 years.

Wasn’t Andreotti, seven times Italian prime minister, a mafioso? But no. But no. Ma no. Andreotti is troppo intelligente. He is too clever. Look, Andreotti is not my friend. He is of the Left. They created this fiction to demonstrate that the Democrazia Cristiana which was for 50 years the most important party in our history was not an ethical party but a party close to criminality. But it is not true. Non è vero. It is una follia! These judges are mad twice over! First, because they are politically that way, and second, because they are mad anyway. To do that job you need to be mentally disturbed, you need psychic disturbances. If they do that job it is because they are antropologicamente different! That is why I am in the process of reforming everything.
The Spectator


Forza Berlusconi!
di Boris Johnson (la traduzione)

The embattled Italian Prime Minister summoned Boris Johnson and Nicholas Farrell to his Sardinian retreat, and accorded them an insight into his success It is twilight in Sardinia. The sun has vanished behind the beetling crags. The crickets have momentarily stopped. The machine-gun-toting guards face out into the maquis of myrtle and olive, and the richest man in Europe is gripping me by the upper arm. His voice is excited. ‘Look’ he says, pointing his flashlight. ‘Look at the strength of that tree.’ It is indeed a suggestive sight. An olive of seemingly Jurassic antiquity has grown from a crack in the rock, and like some patient wooden python it has split the huge grey boulder in two.

‘Extraordinary,’ I murmur. My host and I stand lost in awe at olive power. If Silvio Berlusconi, 67, Italian Prime Minister, is secretly hoping that a metaphor will form in my head, he is not disappointed. What does it show, this outrageous olive, but the force which through the green fuse drives Berlusconi himself? And what does it stand for, this colossal cracked stone? You could try the Italian political establishment; or the European liberal elite; or just civilised Western opinion: all things which Silvio has scandalised and divided.

Only last week the Swedish foreign minister, Anna Lindh, anathematised not just Berlusconi, but Italy itself. Under the government of Forza Italia, she claimed, Italy could no longer be said to be part of Western European tradition or share its values. You may think that a flaming cheek, given that Europe’s founding text is the Treaty of Rome. Where was Sweden, hey, at the 1955 Conference of Messina? You may find, like me, that at the sight of Berlusconi being monstered by Anna Lindh, your sword instinctively flies from its scabbard in his defence. But it was the attack by the Economist newspaper that, I suspect, got in among Berlusconi and his team, not least because it is read in — or lies inert on the coffee tables of – American boardrooms.

Twice now, this distinguished paper (motto: the wit to be dull) has given Silvio a frenzied kicking. It has said that he is not fit to govern Italy, and in a recent edition it laid 28 charges against him and said that not only was he unfit to govern Italy, he was also unfit to be president of the EU — an office he holds until December. It is the Economist attack which may have contributed to the presence of The Spectator here amid the wattle and rosemary of his 170-acre Costa Smeralda estate. Nick Farrell, our Italy correspondent and biographer of Mussolini, has flown in from Predappio. (.......)

For the time being, though, it seems reasonable to let him get on with his programme. He may fail. But then, of course — and this is the point that someone should write in block capitals, fold up and stuff in the mouth of Anna Lindh, Swedish foreign minister — he can be rejected by the Italian people. She may not like it but he was democratically elected and can be removed by the very people Anna Lindh insults. If we are obliged to compare Silvio Berlusconi with Anna Lindh, and other bossy, high-taxing European politicians, I agree with Farrell: as the narrator says of Jay Gatsby, a man Berlusconi to some extent resembles, he is ‘better than the whole damn lot of them’.
The Spectator




E questo l'articolo di sedici mesi fa....

Maggie, not Musso Nicholas Farrell says that Berlusconi is a moderate liberal in a nation where the Left rules the roost
di Nicholas Farrel

Predappio - The Italian Prime Minister and media tycoon, Silvio Berlusconi, is a victim of one of the most dishonest propaganda campaigns in the history of modern politics. He has been demonised by the Left, which has controlled the culture of Italy since the war. Much of the world regards him as ruthless and corrupt, at worst a tyrant, at best a clown. And there is nothing that Berlusconi, or his apparently invincible media empire, can do about it. ‘There’s a waiting-list to see the accountant.’ Tuesday’s general strike — the first in Italy for 20 years — was ostensibly in protest at government plans to modify a labour law called Article 18. This makes it virtually impossible for employers in Italy to sack anyone. That means, of course, that employers are reluctant to hire anyone. The black economy — where workers have no contracts and therefore no rights — accounts for one quarter of Italy’s GDP. As any fool can see, Article 18 does not cure unemployment; it causes it. But in reality the strike was not about this trivial little reform. It was the biggest push to date in the campaign by the Left to force Berlusconi out of government by means of the piazza rather than parliament, where it is hopelessly outvoted. This obsessive, unrelenting anti-Berlusconi campaign has created such a climate of hate in Italy that on 19 March descendants of the Red Brigades, the communist terrorists who created havoc in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s, assassinated the government’s adviser on workplace reform, Professor Marco Biagi — the architect of the modification of Article 18. The professor was himself a man of the Left, though a Blairite rather than a Trotskyite. Indeed, he was one of the main supporters in Italy of the Blair–Berlusconi alliance which secured the deal on greater workplace flexibility at the recent EU summit in Barcelona. Three years earlier, the terrorists who killed him had shot dead his predecessor. Abroad, meanwhile, the demonisation of Berlusconi continues apace. Last month it caused the Italian government delegation to withdraw from the Paris Book Fair, where Italy was guest of honour, after being mobbed by demonstrators waving placards saying ‘Liberate Italy’. France’s socialist culture minister, Catherine Tasca, had said that Berlusconi would not be welcome. The French press had been full of virulent anti-Berlusconi articles: Italy is ruled by ‘a regime’ (Nouvel Observateur) and Berlusconi signals ‘the collapse of democracy’ (Le Monde). In Britain, it is much the same. In the Observer recently, Nick Cohen wrongly stated that one of the parties in Berlusconi’s coalition is the MSI — a party which has not existed for quite some time — which he described as a home for ‘undiluted fascists’. Perhaps it would surprise Nick to know that the UGL, the union which supports the Alleanza Nazionale (AN) — the highly diluted post-fascist party he was presumably referring to — took part in the general strike. Diluted fascists, like undiluted ones, are very big on unions and workers’ rights, which is why many fascists became communists at the end of the second world war. The idea that Berlusconi himself is fascist is, of course, absurd. He is an unreconstructed liberal. His hero is not Musso; it is Maggie. He even keeps a photograph of her on his desk. In a speech before the general strike he emphasised the similarity between his battle with the unions and hers. Even left-wingers know that the fascist smear won’t stick. Their main charge — and they have made it stick throughout Europe and in the United States — is that Berlusconi is not a fit man to be Prime Minister because he owns three out of seven of Italy’s main television channels, and that now he heads the government he effectively runs the other, state-controlled channels. Oh dear. Where does one begin? Anyone who actually watches Italian television cannot fail to notice that the three state-owned channels are dominated by the Left. This can be seen in their incompetence — no state-run news programme is complete without losing contact with reporters in the field — and in their bias: for example, live blanket coverage of another small anti-Berlusconi demonstration as if it were the equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall. True, Berlusconi has — as is his right as Prime Minister — made changes at the top; but these are unlikely to make much difference. It is rather like appointing a new chief executive in a place like Hackney and expecting things to change. The fact is that, as Italians with eyes and ears know, Berlusconi’s three channels are less biased than those of the state-run channels, and are usually of higher quality. Italy’s best political-satire programme is on one of his channels. Recently, one of its reporters pounced on Vittorio Sgarbi, the art critic and culture minister who had been part of the Italian delegation at the Paris Book Fair, to present him with the golden tapir — its weekly dickhead-of-the-week award. To camera, Sgarbi whacked the reporter on the head with the tapir, screaming, ‘I refuse to take the tapir! I refuse to take the tapir!’ As for the corruption, Berlusconi has been acquitted of all charges against him except one, which was quashed on appeal. Anyway, it should be remembered that Italy is a very corrupt country. Berlusconi’s predecessor as prime minister, Giuliano Amato, these days a leading light in the left-wing Ulivo coalition, used to be treasurer of the most corrupt party of the lot in the early 1990s: Bettino Craxi’s socialists. As Giulio Andreotti, the seven-times prime minister acquitted in the end of charges that he was the Mafia’s man in Rome, once said, ‘To make trees grow you need manure.’ The Italians, who have been force-fed the Berlusconi corruption stuff for years, know much more about the ins and outs of it than do foreign journalists. Yet last May they voted in Berlusconi by the biggest majority of any of Italy’s 59 prime ministers since the second world war. This week millions of them went on strike against his planned workplace reforms; they included those employed by his own television channels. But last May, millions more voted for him — 49.5 per cent of the electorate — and a raft of opinion polls published in the Corriere della Sera last week show that support for him remains virtually unchanged. If Berlusconi really were such a big threat to Italian democracy, and if he really did exercise such an iron control of the media in Italy, surely we would be hearing much less about it — not more.
The Spectator 20 aprile 2002