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Italy: Silvio Berlusconi’s last act - by Jacopo Barigazzi

Berlusconi — notorious for his irreverent humor, gaffes, “Bunga-Bunga” sex scandals and his ability to escape prosecutors who for almost two decades have tried to nail him for tax evasion, corruption, false accounting and other crimes — has not said publicly that he’s quitting politics for good. But the mere suggestion that he is retiring as party leader is shifting the landscape as Italy once again faces questions about its economic stability and about political leadership.

Forza Italia has lost ground in parliament in recent years to the populist Northern League, which has had success luring center-right politicians with its anti-immigrant, Euroskeptic stance. In an environment of transformismo, with lawmakers switching parties in growing numbers, Forza Italia has been especially hard-hit — more than 100 leaving it for other parties. It’s also been slipping in the polls. In the 2013 national elections, his party lost more than 6 million votes from its showing in the previous elections in 2008, when it came first.

Part of that is due to Forza Italia’s association with Berlusconi — and the past.

“Italians are not prepared to believe in him anymore,” said pollster Roberto D’Alimonte. “He still has 10-15 percent support but he no longer has any chance of being a leader.”

For the complete report click here: Silvio Berlusconi’s last act – POLITICO

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