I’ve had a decided loathing for Silvio Berlusconi ever since I lived in a Milan dominated by him and his cronies in 1989-90. As an Italophile, watching the strutting of this dangerous buffoon as prime minister has been a painful experience in recent years.
But even I have to laugh at his court appearance in Milan yesterday. The Italian parliament is about to pass a law granting Berlusconi immunity while in office, so this is likely to be his last court appearance for a while (or, The Guardian suggests, forever).
The Financial Times has the most wonderful passage (behind its subscriber-only firewall): “He emphasised his political legitimacy as Italy’s democratically elected head of government by invoking and adapting an aphorism from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. ‘One citizen is equal to another [under the law], but perhaps this one is slightly more equal than the rest, given that 50 per cent of Italians have given him the responsibility of governing the country,’ he said.”
I would have thought that at least Berlusconi’s army of advisers should tell him that Orwell was parodying the animals, not celebrating them. A lot that is wrong with Berlusconi and, I’m sorry to say, Italy is captured in that one quote.