Oh no, not again

Today’s FT leader

Published: June 26 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 26 2008 03:00
Silvio Berlusconi has been in power in Italy for almost 50 days. Watching his new government in action is a bit like sitting down to view a bad old movie again. When the Forza Italia leader last ruled Italy from 2001 to 2006, he spent too much time legislating to protect himself from prosecution and too little reforming Italy’s sluggish economy. It is too early to make firm judgments, of course. But Mr Berlusconi’s latest essay in government already has the makings of another horror show. Once again, the 71-year old prime minister is spending much of his political energy legislating to protect himself from Italy’s public prosecutors. He wants to pass a law that would suspend for one year most court cases where the alleged crime carries a sentence of more than 10 years. If this law is passed, it would scupper a trial due to start next month in which Mr Berlusconi is charged with paying $600,000 to his British lawyer, David Mills. Needless to say, the opposition has dubbed the legislation the “save the premier law”. Mr Berlusconi does not stop here. He is also trying to introduce a law that would give immunity from prosecution to the top office holders in the Italian state, including himself. Such legislation would be unthinkable in most western states and was deemed unconstitutional by Italy’s supreme court when Mr Berlusconi last tried to introduce it in 2004

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