If Berlusconi steps down, will he have to face the music?

After multiple false reports, it appears the Berlusconi era in Italian politics may finally be coming to an end, though not until 2013:  In a wide-ranging interview with the daily La Repubblica published on Friday, the 74 year-old premier criticised his own economy minister, promised to modify an austerity package and repeated his intention to ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
551996_sconi_22.jpg
551996_sconi_22.jpg

After multiple false reports, it appears the Berlusconi era in Italian politics may finally be coming to an end, though not until 2013: 

In a wide-ranging interview with the daily La Repubblica published on Friday, the 74 year-old premier criticised his own economy minister, promised to modify an austerity package and repeated his intention to stand aside from official duties.

"Absolutely not," he said, when asked whether he would stand again. "The candidate for premier on the centre right will be Alfano. If I could, I would give it up now."

After multiple false reports, it appears the Berlusconi era in Italian politics may finally be coming to an end, though not until 2013: 

In a wide-ranging interview with the daily La Repubblica published on Friday, the 74 year-old premier criticised his own economy minister, promised to modify an austerity package and repeated his intention to stand aside from official duties.

"Absolutely not," he said, when asked whether he would stand again. "The candidate for premier on the centre right will be Alfano. If I could, I would give it up now."

Berlusconi, who is fighting allegations of corruption and of paying for sex with an underaged prostitute, has made similar remarks on a number of occasions recently. He has already named the 40 year-old Alfano, named this month as secretary-general of the ruling People of Freedom party, as his successor.

A big question now is what this means for the many, many legal proceedings against Berlusconi. The prime minister has faced  more than 2,500 hearings, 587 visits by the police and $272.9 million in legal fees during his political career on charges ranging from bribery, to abuse of power, to soliciting prostitution. He’s never been convicted on any of them, thanks in large part to a repeated legal maneuver in which he passes a law granting himself immunity from prosecution, only to have it overturned a few years later. Such laws were overturned by courts in 2004, 2009 and 2011.

Without recourse to such legal measures, Berlusconi may now have to avoid jailtime and fines for his various alleged crimes the old fashioned way — by being extremely rich. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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