At first, Silvio Berlusconi seemed like a promising prime minister. After all, he was a media mogul full of entrepreneurial spirit and bravado, which is what his supporters believed the country needed in order to modernize its economy.
They thought that his strong personality would translate well into the political scene. Boy, were they wrong!
As the prime minister from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to present, Berlusconi's political career has been shrouded in controversy. His haters (and believe me, there are PLENTY of them) say he has brought nothing but shame and economic problems upon Italy.
Sex scandals and corruption cases abound.
Berlusconi has made quite a name for himself... but not always in a good way. His lewd and inappropriate words and gestures have been well-documented over the past ten years.
But these all pale in comparison to the allegations thrown at him late last year when a story blew up about Berlusconi hosting wild sex parties, some said to have involved a minor.
Aside from that, he has also been tried for several cases of bribery and corruption, some of them leading to convictions that were mysteriously set aside.
Under Berlusconi's rule, Italy's economy has deteriorated greatly.
Italy's growth has been lagging behind its European counterparts. If you look at its GDP growth in the past 10 years or so, you will see that it averaged just about 0.25% per year, which is the third worst in the world. This is pretty bad considering the rest of Europe isn't even doing that well!
On top of that, Italy's public debt stands at 120% of its GDP, which is also the third highest in the world. Moody's already warned the country of this, and threatened to cut Italy's sovereign credit rating if it doesn't get its finances in order. *cough* Greece *cough*
As former Italian governor Mario Draghi said in a speech, Italy's problems are mainly the result of poor government policies. According to Draghi, the Italian government fails to encourage development as exemplified by the very slow judicial system, the poor educational system, and the monopolistic public and private services markets.
As much as I would like to give the man the benefit of the doubt, Berlusconi has been one of the primary reasons people have lost confidence not only in Italy, but the entire euro zone as well.
As Yoda would probably say, a successful businessman does not a good leader make. Political uncertainty in Italy is at an all-time high, especially with the upcoming confidence vote.
In fact, the voter support for Berlusconi sits at a mere 29%, the lowest ever recorded. If the government doesn't make major structural reforms soon, it won't be long until the market shifts its concern to Italy.
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