So, old Silvio isn’t ready to leave the Italian political scene just yet? And who can blame him – he’s been around for so long it’s almost like he suffers from some sort of lust for power. Ahem. Well, when you’re one of Italy’s richest men, with ownership over TV stations and advertising agencies, construction businesses, and claimed links with the mob, he’s no doubt got quite a lot of free time on his hands in which to play one of the most complex and precarious democratic political systems of the western world.
Berlusconi doesn’t just have his wealth to thank for his four premierships, no it’s his incredibly bombastic, positive personality that pushes him ever forward. His personal image, airbrushed on election posters to freshen his appearance, is one of a statesman and almost a TV personality. He has an uncanny ability to talk his way, it would seem, out of any situation. And perhaps into a fair few too. Berlusconi has inserted his own foot into his mouth on more occasions and with more force than most politicians could possibly dream of, and he usually comes out of it okay. How many politicians could survive calling himself or herself, ‘the Jesus Christ of politics’, or German Chancellor Angela Merkel a ‘lard arse’? Not many, and certainly not many political leaders would manage to continually endear themselves to the electorate after calling their own nation a ‘sh**ty country’.
Whatever you think of Berlusconi, it is clear that he has an incredible energy behind him, is persistent, and more than able to keep his head. The calmness and level-headed cool he exudes really is world class, and as ever, this has been achieved through years of practice.
Now what I think makes Berlusconi particularly interesting is he’s probably like any other politician in that he adopts a certain persona in public. This is a perfectly natural thing to do, and doesn’t necessarily make someone a phony, it’s really an exercise in control, but I think Berlusconi comes across as a lot less guarded and more genuine than his peers. If you imagine that adopting a persona is like putting up a wall between you and the public, it would seem to me that Berlusconi has that wall, just like anyone else, but that his is a considerably lower wall than most, and people can tell, and they like that.