Ex-Prime Minister Berlusconi is also running in the elections in Italy. The now 85-year-old "Cavaliere" wants to move into the Senate, even if his allies Meloni and Salvini make life difficult for him. He hopes to at least become a kingmaker.
The media is finally giving him the attention he deserves. At least that's how Silvio Berlusconi, who is running for a seat in the Senate in this Sunday's parliamentary elections, sees it. Until now, he and his Forza Italia party hadn't received much attention. All eyes were on his allies, the head of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia, and the national-populist Lega leader Matteo Salvini. But at the end of last week, the European Parliament came to the "Cavaliere" to help. Unintentionally, but still.
The European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution denying Hungary the status of a true democracy. Fratelli d'Italia and Lega MPs voted against the decision. Berlusconi, currently MEP, seized the opportunity and immediately spoke up. He stands for a liberal, Christian and pro-European government, he announced, adding a warning for Meloni and Salvini: "If the gentlemen, our allies, in whom I have full confidence, should take a different direction, then we are Out."
Addressing the voters, Berlusconi added: "The moderate and pro-EU voters must vote for us, because only we can guarantee this course." The three parties have formed an alliance. While the Fratelli were still the smallest party in this alliance years ago, according to the polls, Meloni can now hope to move into the Chamber of Deputies with the strongest faction and become the next head of government.
Despite his advanced age, Berlusconi, who is still President of Forza Italia, appears fresh and cheerful. However, he is clearly no longer the youngest. He left the election rallies to his confidant Antonio Tajani, the former President of the European Parliament. He himself gives interviews and haunts the Forza Italia platform and, more recently, Tiktok.
He distributes "program pills" on the party platform and promises all sorts of things: free dental care for pensioners, the construction of a bridge between Calabria and Sicily, a more efficient judiciary, a nationwide health care system and much more. The pills don't go down too well though. YouTube has an average of two hundred views of his videos.
Berlusconi has had more success on Tiktok, the platform for teenagers. Here his videos are viewed between four and five thousand times. In his first appearance, he promised that in the future anyone who wants to start a company just send a registered letter to the relevant office and get to work without waiting for an answer. In another, he urges women to vote for Forza Italia and him because not only is he prettier than Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta, but "because I've been chasing your love all my life." He also delights his followers with jokes. The ratings are very different: from "totally embarrassing" to "Silvio, you're number 1".
But only with program pills and Tiktok you won't get far, the "Cavaliere" knows that too. Especially when his allies Meloni and Salvini make headlines every day. Berlusconi is trying to differentiate himself programmatically. Meloni, for example, wants to abolish the so-called citizens' income that the 5-star movement once enforced. Berlusconi, on the other hand, who previously strictly rejected this measure, now thinks it should only be improved. Salvini wants to increase new debt to help companies and families because of the high energy prices, Berlusconi doesn't want that. But ultimately, these are petty skirmishes. In the case of a governing coalition, arrangements will be made.
At least Manfred Weber, CSU deputy leader and parliamentary group leader of the European People's Party, paid a visit to Berlusconi. He received him in his villa near Milan. They sat together in intimate unity, drank and chatted pleasantly. And in the end, Weber publicly assured Berlusconi of his support. For him it was primarily a personal satisfaction and something like a clean bill of health. Weber had to defend himself in Brussels against sharp criticism from other parties. His statement read: "Italy needs a pro-European government and stability." In the old Bunga-Bunga days, no one would have dreamed that Berlusconi of all people would become the guarantor of "stability" in Italy.
Giving up, retiring, enjoying his retirement, that was never an option for Berlusconi. On September 29 he will celebrate his 86th birthday. The greatest gift the Italians could give him would not just be getting him back into the Senate, but making Forza Italia strong enough to make his party strong enough for Meloni and Salvini to even listen to his threats. If his party falls below 10 percent, it could mean his political demise. A nightmare for the "Cavaliere".