“Violent storms have caused widespread devastation across northern Italy in the past few days leaving at least six people dead and several others missing in a sea of mud and debris,” reports Jo McKenna in Rome for Crikey.

And yet, that’s the least of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s problems. Not that you’d know it. As Marina Hyde wrote in The Guardian on Friday, Berlusconi’s behaviour at last week’s G20 conference didn’t exactly inspire confidence: “… you get the overwhelming feeling that Berlusconi sees the gathering as a chance to take in some cabinet-level booty.”

This man’s “grotesque buffoonery”, wrote Hyde, “perfectly encapsulates the mess in which we find ourselves”.

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The man who shoved Greece back into chaos last week with his referendum thought bubble has stepped down as of (our time) this morning. But while Greek Prime Minister George Papandraou has resigned to make way for a new national unity government, as yet, Italy, the next European country to tip from teetering to free fall, is stuck with this buffoon.

As McKenna reports in Crikey today, last month Berlusconi survived a confidence vote in the lower house by 316 votes to 301 — “but if there is a walkout by many more disillusioned MPs fed up with his scandals and overall ineffectiveness, it could be enough to bring him down”.

It can’t come soon enough. A few weeks ago German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy shared a smirk over a press conference question as to whether they’d been reassured by Berlusconi’s promises of action …

That put a few Italian politicians’ noses out of joint, but hey, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, right?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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