He’s Back! How Silvio Berlusconi
Staged a Political Resurrection
Leoluca Orlando, the mayor of Palermo, has transformed his city from a mafia capital to a capital of culture. But these days, sitting in his palatial office in the heart of the Sicilian capital, just a dozen miles from where a high-profile anti-mafia judge was killed in a car bomb 26 years ago – an act that set off the island’s campaign to dismantle the Cosa Nostra – Orlando is ill at ease.
The recent return of Silvio Berlusconi as a major force in Italian politics is, he says, good news for the enemies he has been fighting for years. “I am not saying he is mafioso. I am not saying that,” Orlando says of the 81-year-old former prime minister. “But he is the man that the rich need, the man that the corrupt need, the man the mafiosi need.”
Not far from city hall, a political debate is under way at trattoria Gigi Mangia, where the eponymous owner, a local legend, is sipping prosecco with Maurizio Miceli, a retired lawyer, and debating the sorry state of politics. Miceli supports Berlusconi, the man known as Il Cavaliere (the knight) because – like millions of Italians – he sees the billionaire as the best of a bad set of options for Italy.
It’s Berlusconi – not the centre-left led by Matteo Renzi, nor the populist, upstart Five Star Movement – who really understands the country and its complexity, Miceli says.
“When people have a pain in their bellies, when they are hungry, the issue of ethics becomes secondary,” he says. “When they hear their pensions will go up and that Berlusconi will bring a flat tax, they don’t care about the times he has been condemned in court.”
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