Can anyone beat Berlusconi to the Italian presidency?

Silvio ‘Bunga Bunga’ Berlusconi was a populist before the word became all the rage. An almost comically divisive figure, he makes spectacular off-the-cuff remarks which thrill his supporters and leave his enemies apoplectic. He called Barack Obama ‘tanned’. He advised a teenage girl that her best bet in life was to ‘marry a rich man’, and once said it is ‘better to stare at pretty girls than be gay’. In an interview with Boris Johnson and me in The Spectator in 2003, he insisted that the fascist dictator Mussolini did not kill his opponents, merely ‘sent them on holiday to the islands’. I wonder if Boris remembers that now. Still,

How democracy can subvert itself: Bunga Bunga reviewed

Italy has long captivated romantics from rainy, dreary, orderly northern Europe. Goethe, Stendhal, Keats and Shelley all flocked to Italy in search of the ideal society. There they found what they thought was a utopia. ‘There is,’ Byron marvelled in a letter home from Ravenna, ‘no law or government at all, and it is wonderful how well things go on without them.’ Well, Silvio Berlusconi has made some of Europe’s wisest men sound like chumps. If the notorious career — chronicled in the podcast Bunga Bunga — of the longest-serving prime minister of Italy since Mussolini and its sometime richest man has done one good thing, it’s to have dispelled