The New York Times columnist Frank Bruni compared Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump, the US tycoon which is now trying to obtain the Republican presidential nomination. Bruni pointedly highlighted the analogies in the personal stories, the personalities and the style of the two men.
So should the Americans worry? Is Trump going to be President, just like Berlusconi was the most enduring Prime Minister in Italian history after Mussolini?
Probably not, because the political background of Italy and the United States are very different.
Berlusconi took possession of the Italian politics in the Nineties, at the dawn of the so-called “Italian Second Republic”, under very particular circumstances.
The country had spent the whole Cold War in a frantic effort to keep the powerful Communist Party out of the Government. Then, all of a sudden, a judicial scandal of epic proportions had wiped out all the political parties. Only the Communist Party was standing still, under the new name of Democratic Party of the Left.
Berlusconi presented himself as the only alternative to a People’s Republic of Italy, and he won in a landslide. The bitter and resented reaction of the left did the rest, convincing the Italian voters that the DPL and its successors were still made of old Communists, who felt that they could bark orders to the voters rather than proposing their agenda.