words by Carol King
Former premier and leader of the Popolo della Libertà (People of Freedom, PdL) political party, Silvio Berlusconi, said farewell to politics with a video on the internet.
Berlusconi resigned as Italian prime minister almost a year ago. On 24 October, he confirmed that he would not stand for re-election in the 2013 general election when voters will choose a successor to Prime Minister Mario Monti’s technocrat government. Berlusconi’s announcement ended months of speculation regarding his political future. The centre-right PdL will select his successor in December.
The ex-premier announced his entry into politics in 1994 via a televised speech to the nation. Soon after the media mogul launched an electoral campaign on his three TV networks.
Some commentators have remarked on the similarity of the ex-premier’s farewell message posted on the internet and his televised speech 18 years ago. Now, as then, he talked of his love for Italy, used soccer metaphors and attacked Italy’s political left: “A left-wing coalition that aims to go back to the centralised approach to planning that has produced the mountain of public debt and the corporative, lazy country we know so well, intends to govern with a band of professional politicians educated and trained according to the outdated egalitarian, solidaritarian and collectivist ideologies of the 20th century.”
Yet Berlusconi’s message on the internet is a sign how times have changed since 1994. Now Italians turn to online newspapers, blogs and social media for news, as well as traditional print media and TV. Italians also took to Twitter to respond to the announcement resulting in the trending meme ‘#AddioSilvio’.
A recent survey shows the PdL polling at 14% nationally, behind the centre-left Partito Democratico (Democratic Party) at almost 26% and the Movimento 5 Stelle (5 Star Movement) at 21%.