Daily Archives: October 26, 2012

Tony Barber

Silvio Berlusconi attends the presentation of the book "The big cheat" by Renato Brunetta (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GettyImages)

Following a Berlusconi trial is like going to the theatre — it is your civic right to enjoy a spectacle even though you know perfectly well the act bears no relation to reality.

Very little about Silvio Berlusconi, or about the Italian legal system, is quite what it seems. The four-year prison term to which the former prime minister was sentenced on Friday for tax fraud is a good example. There is next to no chance that he will go to jail. The likelihood that he will ever be definitively convicted of this particular offence is not much higher.

Contrary to what he and his devotees might think, the reason is not that he is a paragon of virtue. Nor is it that the Italian courts always uncover the truth in the end. It is rather that the three-tier judicial system operates so slowly that, even if a defendant is eventually found guilty in the highest appeals court, the case has been going on for so long that a statute of limitations kicks in. Read more

Welcome to a round-up of presidential election news and the quadrennial process of the “last dash for votes” stories has begun early this time around. Concepts like “momentum”, “campaign groundwork” and “heavyweight endorsements” are here to stay for the next 10 turbulent days.

Having voted in his home state of Illinois, President Barack Obama’s idea of momentum appears to consist of sitting in the Oval Office recording media interviews, while his challenger Mitt Romney has a slightly less hectic schedule than in the immediate post-debate days, with only two states, Iowa and Ohio, on his agenda on Friday. Read more