At least for now in Italy, it seems like history moves in circles. The political crisis which forced the government into a confidence vote is far from over. Did Berlusconi win? some media headlines read on Wednesday. Critics maintained that he was indeed weakened by all means. Even as political analysts called Silvio Berlusconi's life 'a fitting autobiography of the nation,' the Italian PM narrowly survived a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament by 314 to 311 on Tuesday. Riots broke out following his win, illustrating the instability within the country's borders.
Centuries ago, the country's capital Rome once burned to the music of an emperor, and starting Tuesday, the city is yet again in flames. They spread swiftly to the Sicilian regional capital of Palermo, northern city of Turin and the historic Venice. The nation's streets were on riot, yet the men tucked in their suits cheered, backslapped each other over an affluent exploit.
More than 1500 personnel equipped with rioting gear have now been deployed to patrol the streets of Rome. The images of hooded and helmeted protesters beating up policemen, smashing windows of shops, setting cars, police vans and ambulances on fire are seen to be all over the newsprints. All the while videos of party cadres applauding Prime Minister Berlusconi occupied most of the air time on news channels.
The city, which witnessed its worst riot in recent times, is likely to take some time to recover to business as usual. Police are expecting that anti-government protests could continue over the next couple of days if the opposition fails to concede defeat.
Berlusconi wants to stay in power solely to avoid the courts, Gianfranco Fini, the former ally who is currently a strong rival of the prime minister, alleged.
'Power', as a matter fact was the line between life and death for Emperor Nero. Despite being utterly unpopular and blamed for all the misfortunes suffered by the country's masses, he held on to his throne for decades. A rebellion that took to the streets began shaking the ground under his feet and soon it was the end of his tyrannical rule.
Berlusconi's political career too is mired in a flood of sex and political scandals. Not only on the domestic front, his reputation is also at stake worldwide for his embarrassing international gaffes. As the country's third richest man, he faces numerous charges, but so far escaped convictions. Analysts say that it is his power which is keeping him invulnerable for the time-being.
The most recent of his escapades allegedly included an affair with 17-year-old Moroccan girl Ruby. Italian media last month reported that when she was detained by the police on charges of theft Berlusconi called the station in person and ordered her release. The reports stated that the prime minister told the police that Ruby was the granddaughter of the president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak.
The 17-year-old, like most other women of his life, claimed to have known the prime minister after attending his villa for parties, where sex games reportedly took place. Nero's palace too had half-naked dancing girls entertaining the emperor. An endlessly spinning pleasure dome within its walls was the place where sexual excess were played out.
Historians suggest that the monarch himself ordered the conflagration of Rome, to raise taxes and fund his own 'Golden House'. In today's times, the country's government will announce austerity measures which include massive spending cuts on education and welfare.
Discontent isn't limited to the borders of Italy though. The latest leaks of US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks revealed that American diplomats rendered him as feckless, vain and ineffective. Some cables sent to Washington also described him a 'tycoon oligarch' and expressed unease over his relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
As analysts say, for once, the 'Berlusconian lobbying' paid off. The Tuesday victory for Berlusconi could be short-lived and the months ahead could still be wobbly as he faces a substantial opposition in the parliament. A weakened prime minister however, does not guarantee a win to the country's opposition. Analysts maintain that the rebellion would also have to work towards gathering strength and support to orchestrate the political downfall of the PM.
As one analyst put it, the Berlusconi product is no longer viable, but there's nothing around to replace it.