An expert in Italian politics Mario Sommossa believes that Silvio Berlusconi's exceptional political tactical abilities have helped him serve as the country's prime minister four times:
"The Italian ex-premier, without much experience in politics, managed to get rid, one after another, of all those who underestimated him and wanted to take his place. Undoubtedly, he is intelligent and is very motivated to outrun all of them. When allegations of tax fraud were brought up against Berlusconi and when he resigned, everyone thought his era was over, and the ‘after Berlusconi' times began. Perhaps at some point Berlusconi himself thought this was the case, but he quickly got back in the saddle."
Despite having been out of the Italian political scene for the last few years, Berlusconi has fought to remain politically relevant. Mr. Sommossa notes that even his center-right party, Forza Italia, couldn't succeed without him:
"His party Forza Italia practically ceased to exist, and the candidates Berlusconi appointed would only get 4-5% at elections. So he returned to the game as an outsider, without the right to be elected for six years. He again rose to become a head of his party, appearing at the right time and holding the ‘levers of control' of the stock exchange. Berlusconi was no longer as attractive to his supporters as he once was, but even just by himself he could always count on 10% of the votes."
The March 4th general elections in Italy resulted in the populist party, the Five Star Movement earning the most votes with 32 percent and the far-right League taking 17 percent, however, no political group or party won an outright majority, resulting in a hung parliament.
More than two months later the parties are still in the process of forming a new government, and if the coalition fails and new elections are held the Milan court's ruling means Berlusconi could run for prime minister once again.
Mr. Sommossa says there are several ways Berlusconi could make his comeback:
"If after forming a government it's clear that it will last for a long time, which is unlikely, Berlusconi will try without hesitation to get elected into parliament. But if it's clear straight away that this government will just last for several months, which is a more likely scenario, then he will decide to head the next election campaign. Then he will again become the leader of the coalition. Perhaps he will take advantage of the deteriorating image of Salvini (Matteo Salvini — The League's party leader) if the future government turns out to be useless."
"However, two more legal proceedings hangover Berlusconi: the case of ‘corruption in court proceedings' (the politician is accused of bribing witnesses so that they don't testify about his possible crimes) and the investigation of the 1993 terrorist attacks carried out by the mafia: Berlusconi and Marcello dell'Utri* are suspected of being their secret customers."
"If the second accusation sounds ridiculous, then the allegations of bribery of witnesses should not be underestimated, given its possible judicial consequences and its impact on the image of Berlusconi."
The looming proceedings only mean one thing according to the Italian political analyst, that Berlusconi's comeback might be sooner rather than later:
"Berlusconi may be forced to act faster than planned because of this. In this case, his candidacy may already appear in October. How? Well, if any center-right parliamentarian decides to voluntarily give up his job or take another position incompatible with the work in parliament, Berlusconi will have the opportunity to get into parliament through an additional election. Another possibility for Berlusconi is being elected to the Superior Council of the Magistrature. It is sufficient for just one Forza Italia member to be elected to the Council, then that person leaves the post and passes it to someone else. And why not Berlusconi?," Mr. Sommossa concluded.
*Marcello dell'Utri is one of the founders of the Forza Italia party and a personal friend and associate of Berlusconi. In 2014, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for his links to the mafia. In April 2018 he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for taking part in the so-called "state-mafia talks," the secret talks between state officials and mafia that began in 1993 to stop the terrorist attacks.
In 1992, the Sicilian Mafia known also as Cosa Nostra organized several explosions in Italian cities. Later, in the spring and summer of 1993, the mafia carried out three terrorist attacks using cars packed with explosives in Rome, Milan and Florence which left 10 people dead. In 2016, during interrogations, Cosa Nostra boss Giuseppe Graviano stated that Berlusconi had asked him for this favor.
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