Italy. During the year, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
was more than usual at the center of events. Bold newspaper
headlines told about the 72-year-old's real or alleged
parties and sex business with younger women.
New measures by the government to curb the extensive
migration faced international criticism. According to
countryaah, most serious for
the Prime Minister, however, was that he was again put to
trial. He is charged with tax offenses, corruption and
In February, a Milan court sentenced British lawyer David
Mills to prison for corruption for having received a bribe
of about SEK 4 million from Berlusconi in 1997. Mills
received the sum for falsely testifying in two lawsuits
against Berlusconi and his holding company Fininvest.
Earlier, Berlusconi himself was facing trial in these
processes, but when he returned as prime minister in 2008,
he quickly passed a law in parliament protecting the
country's four top executives from prosecution. He had
implemented the same measure as early as 2003, but the
Constitutional Court later rejected that law.
In October, a judge fined € 750 million in the case of
Fininvest. The sum is to be paid to Berlusconi's business
rival Carlo de Benedetti after a bribed judge helped
Fininvest to take over the publishing house Mondadori in the
early 1990s. Just a week later, the Constitutional Court
closed a review of Berlusconi's new immunity law and once
again ruled that it violated the constitutional principle of
everyone's equality before the law.
In an unusual attack on the country's respected President
Giorgio Napolitano, Berlusconi claimed that he had
deliberately staffed the court with leftists. In this
context, it has been pointed out that it was the President
who finally approved the immunity law that has now been
Despite resumed trials, Berlusconi was expected to be
able to remain at his post. In November, the first case was
raised, and it concerns tax breaks within the family company
Mediaset. The case with David Mills has been appealed and
was not expected to be settled until it is prescribed in
The prime minister completely dominates political life
with a strong support in parliament, and in the spring he
strengthened his grip on the center-right parties.
Berlusconis Forza Italia had dissolved at the end of 2008 to
be part of his new, larger project, the People of Liberty
(PdL), which was also the name of the right alliance in the
2008 election. In March 2009, Gianfranco Finis dissolved the
National Alliance and became part of the PdL, which now
formally became a party. Some small parties also joined.
The Left Opposition within the Democratic Party (PD)
failed to take advantage of Berlusconi's difficulties. After
a major setback in the regional elections in Sardinia in
February, party leader Walter Veltroni resigned, and the
party - which is experiencing internal wear and tear - was
only able to elect Pier Luigi Bersani as his successor at
the end of October.
In the elections to the European Parliament in early
June, PD received just over 26 percent of the vote and 21
seats, compared with 33 percent in the national election in
2008. Over 35 percent voted for PdL, which got 29 seats in
Brussels/Strasbourg, and the party's partner Northern
Federation (Lega Nord) took 10 percent and 9 seats.
The government's measures against increasing human
smuggling to Italy's coasts were sharpened during the year.
A bill from 2008 that criminalizes illegal immigration and
residence in the country without a permit was adopted by
Parliament in July. The person found is sentenced to high
fines and can be held up to six months and deported if there
is no reason for asylum. Anyone who gives housing to people
without a permit can receive up to three years in prison.
The law, which has been criticized by the Vatican and human
rights groups, among others, also gives citizens the right
to form patrols to help the police find illegal migrants.
Following the growing Italian contacts with Libya in
recent years, an agreement was concluded in early 2009 that
allowed Italian vessels to stop boats with migrants and
bring them back to Libyan port, if the voyage had begun
there. Although Italy has already previously rejected some
migrants, including from the island of Lampedusa, the first
deportation took place in accordance with the agreement in
early May, when 227 migrants were returned to Libya.
Interior Minister Roberto Maroni hailed the new model
against illegal immigration. Following Berlusconi's 2008
visit to Libya, when he pledged $ 5 billion in compensation
for colonial times, in June 2009, leader Muammar al-Khadaffi
made a response visit; his first trip to Italy. The direct
rejections were criticized because the migrants were not
given the opportunity to seek asylum. The government, for
its part, has,
Berlusconi's weakness for younger, beautiful women is
well known, but the business was unusually scandalous in
2009 - although everything that was written was not correct.
In April, his wife Veronica Lario stated that PdL planned to
nominate a number of glamorous women, including from
Berlusconi's TV shows, to the European Parliament elections;
maybe a rash of her husband's joking mood. In May, it turned
out that he was visiting a girl in Naples when she turned
18. Berlusconi claimed that he was an old friend of the
family, but as far as is known it was with the girl he had
contacts. The story made Veronica Lario announce that she
wanted to get divorced.
During a police investigation into a mutually suspected
entrepreneur, it was revealed in June that he had conveyed
"beautiful ladies" to two parties in Berlusconi's private
residence in Rome. A 42-year-old woman who said she attended
has stated that she would be assisted with a building permit
when she stayed all night. During her visits, she recorded
conversations with a tape recorder, which was then leaked to
In the same month, the magazine El Pais published
"paparazzi pictures" taken in the autumn of 2008 outside
Berlusconi's villa in Sardinia. In addition to ladies with
bare breasts, there was a picture of a naked man, identified
as Czech Republic's former Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek.
These so-called escort ladies should have been mediated by
the same businessman. Berlusconi has said that he does not
directly remember the woman in Rombostaden. He claimed that
the left was running a dirt campaign against him ahead of
the G8 meeting to be held in July in L'Aquila, the city that
was severely damaged by an earthquake in April when nearly
300 were killed while 65,000 became homeless.
Following Berlusconi's promise in 2008 to resolve the
crisis with the refuse disposal in Naples, a closed
incineration plant was opened in March 2009. An even more
serious environmental crime with the mafia involved began to
be revealed during the autumn. Following a tip from an
informant, a sunken ship, apparently with poison barrels,
was found off the coast of Calabria in the south. According
to the informant, there was also radioactive material, and
he stated that he himself participated in the reduction of
two other vessels.
The decline of the Italian economy continued, and in
October GDP had fallen for six consecutive quarters;
totaling about 6.3 percent. The country's exports fell
sharply, and many small and medium-sized companies, Italy's
backbone, experienced problems. The government presented
stimulus packages, including for the car industry with a
scrapping premium, and decided that the previously halted
project with a bridge between Sicily and the mainland should