Berlusconi Resignation is the Silver Lining of the Euro Crisis

The Italian prime minister has long needed to step down


Perhaps it's a uniquely American tendency to look for the silver lining in any cloud. And it is modern Italy's role to offer it to us on, well, a silver platter.

The crisis in the Eurozone is horrific, starting with Greece but extending to Portugal and now Italy, as members of the European Union deal with their own debt crises and demands to straighten out their budgets. The United States is challenged enough, given how radically different our citizens are, culturally and politically. But it's nothing compared to Europe, which has a shared currency and seeks to have an interdependent set of economies despite being home to vastly different economies and traditions. The different languages are merely an asterisk compared to the range of other differences Europeans seek to navigate.

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But as bad as things look on the continent, the fiscal crisis has taken out an unintended but long-deserving victim: Silvio Berlusconi.

How the Italian prime minister has managed to stay in power so long in a democracy is a mystery. We may fret about politicians here taking big campaign donations from moneyed interests which then benefit from that person being elected. But it's nothing compared to the rap sheet Berlusconi has amassed, including allegations of bribery (including bribing judges), tax evasion, embezzlement, corruption of Italian senators and—incredibly—collusion with the Mafia. And while we may slam elected officials here for having affairs, texting shirtless photos of themselves or tweeting pictures of their private parts, Berlusconi takes it from the distasteful to the criminal: he is accused of paying an underage girl for sex and then abusing the power of his office to get her released on other charges. One of the women he has purportedly been involved with said the prime minster was entertained at orgiastic affairs where some 20 young women and Berlusconi would dance, nude, in a "bunga bunga" ritual.

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Berlusconi has a vast media empire in Italy, which might explain why it was The British publication The Economist (or "The Ecommunist," as Berlusconi snidely, and bizarrely, has called the fiscally conservative weekly) which published a comprehensive and compelling investigation of the Italian leader. In any sensible political environment, Berlusconi would have been forced to resign, but he hung on.

Oddly, it is the financial crisis and the lack of confidence in Berlusconi among Italian lawmakers that is forcing the buffoon of a leader to finally step down. Berlusconi said he would resign if a budget reform measure passed the Italian Senate. It's a first step toward justice for the Italian people who have been forced to endure Berlusconi since the 1990s.

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