Not the People, nor the Courts, nor the Legislature, but the Market, ousts Silvio Berlusconi: Are Italians Free to Choose?
Before Silvio Berlusconi’s decision to resign, his opponents had mounted efforts against him on multiple fronts. They had used the judiciary, the legislature, and the streets. In the judiciary, his opponents challenged his ethical fitness. They sued him for tax fraud, fraudulent accounting, corrupting judges, and a series of sexual harassment allegations, including statutory rape. In the judiciary, he survived over fifty confidence votes. On the streets, protesters accused him of homophobia, entertaining prostitutes in a government mansion, and centralizing media and power. Yet, Italy’s uncannily resilient prime minister caved virtually overnight to the market’s protest. Accused of sexually abusing a minor, consorting with prostitutes, bribing officials, forging taxes, false accounting, centralizing power, aiding the Sicilian Mafia, and paying for child prostitution, he was serene. When the market flinched, like a conditioned lapdog responding to a ringing bell, he was alert and obliged.
What does this mean for Italians who used practically every channel available in a liberal democracy to oust Berlusconi? Are they free to choose whom the market appoints or demotes?