Sunday, 31 October 2010

Silvio Berlusconi and the Helmet of Mambrino

[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] -  The future of Silvio Berlusconi is hanging by a thread. While the attention of Italian citizens is diverted by his sexual behaviour (1) and real estate affairs (2), legal problems have become gangrenous (3).

This week Giorgio Napolitano expressed firm disapproval towards a proposed constitutional law which would make the Italian President himself and the Prime Minister repeatedly immune from any legal prosecution. According to him, indeed, the shield law would force the Constitution by subjecting the President of the Republic to the will of the Parliament (4).

Giorgio Napolitano is also said to be worried that a shield extended to the figure of the President of the Republic might make Silvio Berlusconi immune from prosecution until 2020 (5), the shield possibly being part of a larger strategy aimed at leading Silvio Berlusconi to become President of the Republic in 2013 (6).

If repeatable, indeed, the shield might permit Silvio Berlusconi to avoid any trial up to the age of 84, consequently turning immunity into impunity (7). Such a legislating fury is at least suspicious, a different law yet allowing the Prime Minister not to resort to the court if engeged in any official appointment (8).

Moreover, the shield law would immediately put the Italian Prime Minister at the same stage as the President of the Italian Republic (9). In this case, any public conflict would easily turn in favour of the former, which is chosen - though indirectly - through general elections (10).

The picture might not be more vivid: as Giuseppe D'Avanzo wrote, at the end of his political career the Italian Prime Minister is interpreting a tragedy marked by the abuse of power (11).

With the shield law, Silvio Berlusconi is actually putting a colander on his head in order to make his regime eternal.


* "- I say this because, unless I am mistaken, coming toward us is a man who wears on his head the helmet of Mambrino, concerning which, as you well know, I have made a vow.
    - Your grace, be careful what you say, and more careful what you do, - said Sancho, - for you wouldn't want this to be more fulling hammers that end up hammering and battering our senses."
(Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, I, XXI, translation by Edith Grossman).

(1) Piero Colaprico «Ruby. "Silvio showed me the Audi and said: 'It's yours'"»,, October 29th 2010.

(2) Sergio Rizzo "Gli investimenti di Berlusconi. Ad Antigua ville per 22 milioni",, October 17th 2010.

(3) Marcello Sorgi, "La regola e l'eccezione",, October 27th 2010.

(4) Read Al.T., "Scudo, lo stop di Napolitano", Corriere della Sera, October 23rd 2010. Article 90 of the Italian Constitution, concerning Presidential Indemnity, explains that:
  1. "The president may not be held responsible for exercising his duties, except for high treason and attempts to overthrow the constitution.
  2. In these cases, he must be impeached by parliament in joint session by a majority of its members."
(5) Massimo Franco, "Effetti a catena",, October 23rd 2010.

(6) Stefano Folli, "Lo scudo sbriciolato all'ombra del Quirinale",, October 23rd 2010.

(7) Luca Ricolfi, "La differenza tra immunità e impunità",, October 23rd 2010.

(8) Pierluigi Battista, "Una lunga stagione da chiudere", Corriere della Sera, October 24th 2010.

(9) Massimo Giannini, "Il nuovo lodo Alfano: un Frankestein costituzionale",, October 23rd 2010.

(10) Eugenio Scalfari, "Il sasso istituzionale e lo tsunami politico",, October 24th 2010.

(11) Giuseppe D'Avanzo, "L'abuso di potere",, October 29th 2010.


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