Berlusconi: Italy is a "shitty country"
He's survived sex scandals, corruption investigations and insurrections – but can Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi survive in his post even after insulting the country he rules? Considering the shocking vulgarities he has been caught using while referring to Italy in a secret recording, this may be too much for even the Teflon Prime Minister to fend off.
The recording, made in July but released this week, catches Berlusconi saying he wished he could leave Italy – saying it is a "shitty country" that "sickened" him. The recording was made by Italian police, who were investigating allegations that Berlusconi was paying a man to corroborate his story that he was unaware the women supplied to him for his infamous "bunga bunga parties" were prostitutes.
The transcript of the recorded conversation came to light after police arrested a wealthy Rome businessman and his wife in a raid at dawn on Thursday, charging them with blackmailing Berlusconi. They allegedly demanded payment from Berlusconi in order to keep quiet about arranging the prostitutes for him. Berlusconi has admitted paying them but says he wasn't blackmailed and did it voluntarily.
In order for the prosecution to go forward the transcripts of the recorded calls had to be made public. In one of them, Berlusconi goes on a tirade while talking to the Rome businessman.
"They can say about me that I screw. It's the only thing they can say about me. Is that clear? They can put listening devices where they like. They can tap my telephone calls. I don't give a fuck. I … In a few months, I'm getting out to mind my own fucking business, from somewhere else, and so I'm leaving this shitty country which sickens me."
Berlusconi's poll numbers are already dismally low, and in any normal country it's hard to see how a leader could survive after insulting his country in this way. But this isn't a normal country, this is Italy. Italians are not a very patriotic bunch, and the sad truth is I suspect a great deal of Italians would agree with Berlusconi's sentiments (most of the Italians I know certainly do). Add to this the fact that Italy has no viable alternative to Berlusconi at the moment and I would predict he's still not going anywhere (despite his apparent desire to leave).
As I've written before, Berlusconi is like asbestos in the walls of Italy – toxic to the country, but if you remove him the whole structure will need to be renovated – and the building could collapse. It's an extremely strange situation.
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