A law about to destroy legality (or what is left of it) in Italy
    By Tommaso Dorigo | November 14th 2009 07:42 AM | 17 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    The Berlusconi government is about to force a devastating law through the Italian bicameral system. And I am appalled by the absurdity of the situation and by the straight face these clowns who govern my country have put up.

    The facts. Silvio Berlusconi is facing a trial for bribery of a lawyer, the Englishman Mills, who took 600,000 euros to produce a false testimony in favour of the Italian premier. Mills was convicted of the crime, but Berlusconi was not tried, because of a law machined just in time, to suit him: the "Lodo Alfano", named after the Minister of Justice, which gave immunity to the four highest charges of the Italian political system (the President of the Republic, the Presidents of the two chambers, and the Premier). With the Lodo Alfano, Berlusconi got shielded from two other misdemeanor accusations.

    It so happens that the Lodo Alfano was canceled a month ago by a court which decided that the law is illegal -as Berlusconi's opposers had repeatedly claimed-, since it goes against the Italian Constitution.  Now, with the Lodo Alfano off the board, Berlusconi is almost certain of being convicted if he is tried -Mills was bribed to falsely testify in his favour,  and this is an established fact. The first session is already being scheduled, and he claimed that his institutional duties prevent him from attending in the near future. In the meantime he asked his lawyers to put together a law to cancel his trial for good.

    The law was justified by the government with the excuse that the judiciary system needs to be simplified, and to make trials shorter. They did their best to make it look like urgent business for our Country, in a moment when unemployment is at a record high, and the foreign debt has reached an appalling 115% of the gross national product. The project of law establishes that after two years, if the trial has not ended, your crime goes untried and you get away with it. And it is retroactive! Now, with the law in place, Berlusconi would get rid of all the accusations once and for all. But unfortunately, as always happens with laws made ad personam, this wreaks havoc in the whole system. Because if the law passes, hundreds of ongoing trials will be canceled.

    I am with Pierferdinando Casini this time. Casini is the leader of UDC, a catholic party inspired by the "Christian Democracy" which governed Italy for 40 years after WWII. He is not a person of which I have high esteem. But he said it best: let us make the Lodo Alfano a constitutional law, give Berlusconi what he wants, and forget the issue. Because here there is more at stake than the reputation of our shameful prime minister: the whole system will collapse. Judges will be forced to deal with the urgent administration, and corrupt politicians, criminal organizations, massive frauds  will acquire total immunity.

    The fight that the Berlusconi government has moved to magistrates in Italy since Berlusconi got to power is a shameful thing by itself -he calls honest judges who do their duty in silence for a modest income "dangerous communists" because they investigate on notitiae criminis related to him- but this law is horrible. Italy is not renowned for a well-working judiciary system, but Italy is about to become a banana republic -if it is not already one.


    Poor Silvio has to sleep in his office because your Arab terrorist pals go after his neck,27574,26352444-23109,00.html

    and it's still not enough for bloody aggressive socialists like you, is it?

    Don't you have any homework to do? School's on tomorrow, you know.

    Berlusconi's incredible. Ingrid Rowland has an article on Italian politics in the current New York Review of Books here.

    Rowland's article is rather inaccurate, and not about politics but gossip, I am afraid I have to note.

    If you have the time, I'd be interested in any specific criticisms of Rowland's article. (I can't comment about details of Italian politics, but I wonder if you're being completely fair in saying the article is on gossip. True, she brings up some gossipy elements -- but it seems to me her main point is the political dysfunction.)



    Pawl, I only gave it a cursory look. But for instance, the car that Marrazzo used to visit his trans friends was legally usable for private business, so there is no fault there. Actually, if it was a blunder to use it for his private encounters, it was because he was more recognizable in his movements.

    Also not of "juridical importance" as the article says are the large sums of money: nobody can, nor is, charging Marrazzo for that, because there is simply no proof. For the cocaine it's another matter, admittedly.

    The article calls "dictator" Vladimir Putin, which is a stretch. Calls Fini "far and away the most capable politician in circulation" which is partisan, to say the least. Mentions Napoli's camorra without explaining that Berlusconi's candidate as governor of the region, Cosentino, is indicted of camorrism.

    Overall, the article looks quite leaned on the right-wing side of the matter. No space is given to the question of the moment, i.e. the fact that Berlusconi is trying to avoid being processed, and is at war with magistrates. A rather skewed view.


    Thanks. (I wonder if the article's not taking up Berlusconi's latest attempt to avoid the law is due to when the article was written. )

    This is a huge surrealistic joke, right? A person about to make a whole country collapse just to save his ass (has he considered declaring war against Libya so that Italy enters a state of emergency and all trials are frozen?). Or maybe he's thought this up just to trick you accept the Lodo Alfano, hm?


    This is a huge surrealistic joke, right? A person about to make a whole country collapse just to save his ass (
    There are plenty of those around in the today's world, so it can hardly be a joke.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    I do not always disagree with the author. For example, a reply to his article on children starving to death, by one Luboš Motl, can best be described as cacodyl.
    As it says: Jöns Jakob Berzelius coined the name kakodyl (later changed to cacodyl) for the dimethylarsinyl radical, (CH3)2As, from the Greek kakodes (evil-smelling) and hyle (matter).
    Nevertheless, his repeated attacks on Berlusconi carry little weight with me. Firstly, he seems to pride himself on being of the left, so he is biased beforehand; moreover, this tinkering with the law is characteristic of many rulers beloved of those who consider the USA to be the devil that they don’t believe in. Also, Berlusconi’s association with the Pope will bias the author even further, since he is of the Lennonist persuasion (“Imagine there’s no heaven” - a miserific song if ever there was one).

    Morever, in this matter the author comes across as so cheerless that he is almost making me feel sympathy for Berlusconi, malgré moi. He would be much better taking a leaf out of the book of Totò, and renaming an undergarment after his target, doing a take on “La Cammesella”. Something like this (alas I’m not fluent in Neapolitan):

    Levate stu Berluscone! ...
    Berluscone, gnerno’, gnerno’!

    You can Totò’s version of the song on - highly recommended.

    the Cacodyl molecule
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Robert I have no idea what T.D.'s political views are (and I don't care at this point), but I find this statement of yours disturbing: "he seems to pride himself on being of the left, so he is biased beforehand".
    So you seem to claim that one's set of values (political or anything else) define one's stance, instead of one's stance providing the definition for the set of values he has (if any). You also seem to believe that the correct opinion is equidistant from all other opinions. I'm sorry to say that people who blame others for this way of thinking usually form their opinion by examining the one single example they have at hand.
    So, honestly, what are your arguments for Berlusconi in this case apart from poor style?

    So, honestly, what are your arguments for Berlusconi in this case apart from poor style?
    Point minor: style has nothing to do with it.
    Point major: I'm not giving any arguments for Berlusconi here.  I'm stating an emotional reaction.

    Perhaps to a global readership, arguments around G.W.Bush and the Iraq war might be more understandable.  We all know, in our respective countries, which voices were the loudest against the man and the action.  But such voices failed on the Mandy Rice-Davies principle:
    "Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?"
    As for left versus right, both sides (if one must use that definition) have supported odious dictators closer to the equator.  But whereas those on the right would say something like "He's a son-of-a-bitch but he's our son-of-a-bitch", on the left they would refuse to see that their man was a son-of-a-bitch at all.

    That's what I call asymmetric warfare!
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Not-informed English-speaking readers could find an interesting picture of the situation above this tag ("Editors Note"):
    In the same post, you can also have an idea of what the power of bloggers (and Facebook users) could be... and realize that not all Italians stand passively this guy.

    Ciao Leonardo,

    thanks for the link. Yes, there is some reaction, but I guess it is not enough because Italians have been too fascinated with the wealth and power of this guy. We are not going to be freed of him until he retires or dies, and we just have to hope that his son does not take his place.
    Hi Tommaso,

    When everything is in the open it can't be too bad. Something like some of those crazy scandals in the U.S. It's when everything is kept secret by the government that worries are more warranted I think.

    best regards, forrest

    Hi Forrest,

    not sure whether you mean that the malign lawmaking of Berlusconi, being in the open, can't be too bad, or whether it is an evaluation of his misdemeanors. In any case, the law is extremely damaging to Italy, and I hope it will be stopped.


    As I'm sure you know, few here in the States are following the shenanigans of Berlusconi or lawmaking possibilities of Italy in general. As you suggest, expediting due process of the law is always a bad idea as are most laws made ad personam.

    I also agree with the logic as you explained it, as quoted by Casini: "...........give Berlusconi what he wants, and forget the issue (that might cause the law to get passed). Because here there is more at stake than the reputation of our shameful prime minister..........."

    I'm sure there is support against such a law from important factions inside and outside the country which I hope will add up to defeat of the proposed law. One thing about a democracy, however, is that bad laws, even if passed, can also be repealed/ corrected at some later date. Hope all turns out for the best and that the law doesn't get passed for the benefit of Italy.

    respectfully, forrest