Never Say Ciao

Sunday, April 6, 2008

"The past isn't dead," wrote William Faulkner. "It isn't even past." He wasn't talking about Italy, but as the country heads to the polls next weekend to usher in its 62nd government since World War II, he certainly could have been. Back on the ballot is former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the country's richest man and the second longest-serving prime minister since the fall of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Berlusconi was only 8 years old when partisans strung up Il Duce by his feet in Piazzale Loreto in 1945. But from the sound of the debate, you'd think Mussolini were his running mate. In spirit, anyway.

-- Emily Langer

"Only one man had power, and that's Mussolini. All the others . . . only had trouble."

-- Berlusconi, who often lamented the checks on his authority as prime minister, last December

"If we don't get an election, I think millions of people will go to Rome to demand one."

-- Berlusconi, conjuring images of the March on Rome by fascist thugs that propelled Mussolini to power in 1922, after the center-left government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi collapsed in January

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