October 2, 2013 |
ROME -- Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has made a last-minute U-turn on plans to bring down the Italian government, backing premier Enrico Letta in a crucial confidence vote after members of his own party threatened to desert him. In a shocking reversal that could splinter his party and seriously damage his political fortunes, Berlusconi agreed to throw his support behind Letta. The prime minister is trying to pass reforms intended to drag Italy out of its most serious recession since the Second World War. Following last-ditch talks with rebels in his party, the 77-year-old media mogul made a short speech to the Italian Senate shortly before the vote, saying: "We have decided, not without some internal strife, to support the government.
August 1, 2013 |
ROME - Italy's high court on Thursday upheld a conviction of tax fraud and a four-year prison sentence for Silvio Berlusconi, the first time that the media mogul and three-time prime minister has received a definitive conviction and sentence in his 20-year dominance of Italian politics. The verdict may signal the unwinding of Berlusconi's colorful political career and could also undermine Italy's fragile coalition government. The court declined to rule on a five-year ban on political office that Berlusconi had been handed by a lower appeals court, sending the matter back to the lower court for reconsideration.
June 13, 2013 |
Political comedy isn't what it used to be, but what shtickmeister could compete with the running gags of those currently holding office? David Mamet took up the challenge and came up short with his Oval Office farce "November," leadenly staged last fall at the Mark Taper Forum. Now we have "Yes, Prime Minister" trying to tickle audiences at the Geffen Playhouse with the behind-the-scenes machinations of the British government. Written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the team that co-created the popular BBC television series "Yes Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister," the show redeploys the characters from those programs to satirize a political system in which civil servants pride themselves on being both the puppet masters and the cleanup squad of a benighted prime minister.
May 17, 2013 |
ROME -- The Moroccan-born dancer at the center of Silvio Berlusconi's prostitution trial took the stand in court for the first time Friday, describing how female guests at Berlusconi's so-called bunga-bunga parties stripped to their underwear and dressed up as nuns, nurses and even Barack Obama. Karima el Mahroug, better known by her stage name Ruby the Heartstealer, was giving evidence at the trial of three associates of the former Italian prime minister who are accused of procuring prostitutes for him. Berlusconi is on trial separately on charges of paying Mahroug for sex when she was 17, a crime in Italy, as well as trying to cover up the alleged crime.
March 7, 2013 |
ROME -- Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was given a one-year jail sentence Thursday for breach of confidentiality after the publication of illegally obtained wiretaps by a newspaper controlled by his family. Berlusconi remains free pending appeals, and it's considered unlikely that the jail sentence will ever be enforced. But the verdict by a Milan court adds to a mounting number of legal tangles faced by Berlusconi, whose political coalition came in second in elections last month.
February 14, 2013 |
ROME - Weeks before Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation because of failing health, Italians were already bracing themselves for a change at the top. But the elections to pick a new Italian government this month have been overshadowed and potentially thrown for a loop by Benedict's shocking decision to be the first pontiff to step down in almost 600 years. The 85-year-old's final Mass on Wednesday, which drew the kind of cheering fans to St. Peter's Basilica that politicians dream of, dominated pages of newspapers that Italy's political candidates had hoped to fill with dramatic campaign promises and choice insults aimed at their opponents.