What happens after Berlusconi

Elika Roohi/Special to the Sun Star
Dec. 6, 2011

My first semester abroad in Italy is almost over.  And the end of it has also brought the end of Silvio Berlusconi’s reign as Prime Minister of Italy.

Most of the protesting and rioting that drove Berlusconi out of office happened in Rome, so as a student in Florence I haven’t seen many crowds marching with banners.  But being in Italy right now, even outside of the protesting crowds, is pretty exciting.

A few of my classes have been talking about Berlusconi’s time in office and what his resignation means.  One of my professors spent an entire class explaining to us what would happen if Italy goes back on the lira overnight.  The short version is that it would cause even more problems in Italy’s already unstable economy.  Because of Italy’s shaky political and economic future, the majority of Italians are nervous about what will happen next, even if they are happy about Berlusconi’s resignation.

It’s the Eurozone debt crisis that finally pushed Berlusconi out of office on November 12.  The announcement of his resignation was met with cheers in the streets of Rome, and hope that Italy’s economy might start improving.

Mario Monti was appointed by Italy’s president to replace Berlusconi as Prime Minister.  This will be Monti’s first job in government, but he is known as a tough negotiator and a renowned Italian economist, and is Italy’s best hope right now.

Berlusconi’s resignation and Monti’s appointment as the new Prime Minister is a step in the right direction, but Italy has a ways to go.  There are so many problems that need to be fixed in Italy’s government, and unfortunately they are going to be put on the back burner while the Eurozone debt crisis is worked out.

One of the biggest things Italy needs to look at after the economy is how Berlusconi held that much power for so long, and what can be done to prevent that in the future.  Berlusconi was not just the Prime Minister; he is the third richest man in Italy, and Italy’s biggest media mogul.

His company, Mediaset owns half of the television Market in Italy and also has interest in print newspapers.  His influence over the media only increased when he was Prime Minister.  While in office he controlled the three public news channels.

Berlusconi may be out of office, but he still has a lot of influence in Italy.  That’s why on the night of November 12, the cheers and celebrations that erupted all over the country after his resignation was announced did not make the news.  Instead, that night on the local networks the media aired pieces about the highlights of Berlusconi’s career.

It’s pretty exciting to be an exchange student in Italy during this time of political and economic turmoil. Besides the daily fear that Italy will go back on the lira overnight, and my summer job money won’t go as far, seeing change up close and personal happen in a country that’s been needing some reform for a while is really inspiring.

An Italian roadway. Photo by Elika Roohi.

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