After weeks of being soft on Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s opposition leader Walter Veltroni has finally started to take his job seriously. It is just about time.
Get up, stand up, Walter! (via AndreasC, Flickr)
A wolf is not a lamb and Silvio Berlusconi will never change. These are the eternal truths Italy has learned over the past few weeks. After his comfortable election-victory in April, Mr. Berlusconi had promised working for the Italian people, even it meant having to work with the opposition.
Walter Veltroni, the leader of the centre-left opposition, seemed to have agreed to accept the proposal, stay away from a blockade policy and follow a more bipartisan approach. While Mr Berlusconi did not do much to keep his promise to sell Alitalia, sinking more money into the highly unprofitable flight carrier, and appointed Renato Schifani, an MP with alleged mob-links, as senate speaker, the opposition stayed silent.
Only when Mr. Berlusconi used the new found freedom to press through his own private agenda, Mr Veltroni woke up. The Prime minister proposed an amendment last week which was to bring to halt all trials for crimes committed before June 2002 for a year (which will, of course, affects himself); before that, the government had also banned eavesdropping in cases of business-criminals and had passed a law that will threaten journalists and their sources with jail if they report about informations of investigations. This week, Mr. Berlusconi will push through legislation to guarantee the Prime minister immunity while being in office.
But Mr Berlusconi might not get everything he wants: His trial-suspension is deemed unconstitutional by experts, though further fights with legislative power will follow. His popularity might also decline as the waste-crisis in Naples gets serious again and his coalition partner, the right-wing Lega Nord has shown first signs of dissent, lately (not speaking of Mr Berlusconi’s failed appeal to the Pope to allow him…er, divorced men to participate in the communion…). But after all, it is not the opposition that makes his life difficult – and this is dangerous. Mr Berlusconi might be a good target for mockery, but his potential to further damage Italian democracy should be taken seriously. Mr. Veltroni better not only wake up, but get his act together to finally start doing something about it.