Every objective observer knows that until the B problem is solved, one way or the other, Italy’s politics cannot be normal. The facts are that arguably the most voted leader in Italian history has been investigated, indicted, and convicted more times than any common criminal. How much of this is due to his deeds or misdeeds, and how much is it instead due to the politicisation of justice? Nobody really knows, but when last week Italy’s highest court, which is called to rule on the final appeal by Berlusconi on the Mediaset/Film rights case, said that it will issue its ruling on 30th July, i.e. in record time, it didn’t take one to be a PDL pasionaria like Ms Santanché to cry foul. Why is it that rapists and murderers can benefit from the well-known slowness of the Italian justice system, which coupled with a generous statute of limitations, effectively gets many criminals off the hook despite them being convicted by one or two lower courts, while for Berlusconi all dockets are cleared and he ‘enjoys’ a ride on the ‘bus lane’ thus depriving him of the benefits (not the right of course) of getting the statutes of limitations to clear him?
While we wait for the final verdict, Italy is verging on another precipice. It was downgraded again by the rating agencies last week, and its government is certain to collapse should the verdict affirm the lower courts’ convictions. Is this the time to find a political solution, as hard and as indigestible as it can be? Rumours started floating last week of a presidential pardon, which was quickly denied by the Quirinale. The truth is that the only possible solution for Berlusconi, short of a revolution, which is still pretty unlikely, is for the highest court to overturn the previous convictions, thereby discrediting the prosecutors and discouraging further lower convictions. Italians are holding their breath.