The company they keep

The Italian Supreme Court has confirmed that Prodi won and Berlusconi lost. Berlusconi is still crying “fraud,” though his own Interior Minister says otherwise, and demanding a grand coalition government.
Tony Blair has made a congratulatory phone call to the winner. Only three world leaders are encouraging Berlusconi’s tantrum by withholding that routine courtesy: George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, and Pope Benedict XVI.

The Italian Supreme Court has confirmed the victory of Romano Prodi’s center-left coalition over Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia/Northern League/National Alliance combination. That means that Prodi will become Prime Minister sometime next month.

Earlier, I remarked while most Western European leaders had recognized Prodi’s apparent victory with congratulatory telephone calls, the three B’s &#8212 Bush, Blair, and Berlusconi himself &#8212 were holding out.

That’s no longer true. Blair has done the right thing. The remaining holdouts are Bush, Pope Benedict, and Vladimir Putin.

And, of course, Berlusconi, who looks as if he’s going to have to be dragged out of office feet-first. He’s alleging fraud in an election his own Interior Minister says was cleanly run, and demanding a “grand coalition.”

I hope the Decider-in-Chief and His Holiness are pleased with the company they’re keeping, and the enemies they’re making among Italians who care about constitutional democratic government.

Footnote Atrios wonders how Italians are reacting to Berlusconi’s buffoonery. In pondering possible answers to that question, recall that anyone who gets his news from television, rather than the newspapers, has access only to Berlusconi’s side of the story, since he owns all the private networks and has made the public ones Fox News-like in their slavish devotion to the party in power. Once Prodi takes power, that situation will change.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

2 thoughts on “The company they keep”

  1. I don't think Bush wants to be seen helping Berlusconi cause a constitutional crisis. 1st: Silvio is going to lose 2nd: Prodi could withdraw Italian troops from Iraq sooner rather than later and 3rd: if Josh Marshall is right, Prodi could open up the Niger forgery business to much closer scrutiny. Who exactly forged those Niger documents? And why? Does anyone think it was just a clever idea from some Italian intelligence agent trying to be helpful?

  2. Actually, that doesn't change a whole lot when Prodi comes in. Berlusconi owns 5 or 6 major networks. I believe there's only one government network, and obviously that's the only one that's going to change.

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