With Berlusconi in the Soup

Sandro Pace/AP Images
Silvio Berlusconi, front left, demanding on state television that his wife, Veronica Lario, publicly apologize to him after she announced that she was filing for divorce, May 5, 2009. Lario and Berlusconi are pictured in the background; the writing at the top of the screen says, ‘And Veronica asks for a divorce.’

It is a measure of the ineptitude—or is it a death wish?—of Italy’s major opposition party, the Partito Democratico (Democratic Party), that it has spent the entire season of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s discontent wrangling over the election of its own party secretary—only to be caught, on the eve of the October 25 vote (its winner was Pier Luigi Bersani, a sensible former minister in several left-wing administrations), by a veritable Vesuvius of erupting bimbos. The day before, Piero Marrazzo, the Democratic governor of the region of Lazio (approximately equivalent to a state in the US, and the region that contains Rome), confessed to having been blackmailed by a gang of four corrupt carabinieri who had tracked his wild times with transgendered Brazilian prostitutes (filming an encounter with a certain “Natalie”). His sexual tastes were of no juridical importance, but the same could not be said about his use of an official car for these appointments, or his payment of outrageous sums of money (whose?) for ministrations laced with cocaine and silicone curves. He resigned on October 27.

Ironically, Marrazzo, a former television host (which may have helped him meet his pneumatic Brazilian friends), now finds that his most fervent defenders come from the ranks of Berlu- sconi’s majority party, the Popolo della Libertà (Freedom People), which is anxious to protect its own paladin from the consequences of his even more publicized amorous excesses. Members of Freedom People of late have been outspokenly solicitous of other people’s “privacy”—that is, their appetite for kinky sex.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this never-ending tale of Homo politicus and the Seven Deadly Sins is the reaction of the women involved, which bears no resemblance to the grim stoicism of their American counterparts, the betrayed wives who stand with dismal regularity hand in hand with their lawfully wedded philanderers while looking as visibly agonized as Saint Sebastian shot full of arrows. Veronica Lario, Berlusconi’s wife, responded to her husband’s shenanigans by announcing her filing for divorce in the pages of the opposition newspaper La Repubblica; for his part, the father-in-law of former Governor Marrazzo has been enthusiastically denouncing his son-in-law, not without reason, as a jerk. In any event, wherever Italy goes these days, the Democratic Party in its present form is unlikely to be leading the way.

There is no question, however, that Italy is moving into a new situation. Ever since Veronica Lario gave up on her marriage, Berlusconi has had an increasingly hard time finding his bearings nationally, internationally, and personally (of course,…

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