Berlusconi's Faithful: 'Only Silvio Can Save Italy' By Fabian Reinbold in Palermo, Italy
Comparisons to Jesus, professions of love: Supporters of Silvio Berlusconi are rabidly faithful. As the campaign winds down ahead of elections in Italy, the rhetoric has heated up. For those who deify "Il Cavaliere," the Germans are to blame for their country's woes.
The savior is making the crowd wait and Giovanni Ferrante briefly lost his faith. "Where the devil is Berlusconi hiding," he says. He's been waiting for more than an hour in a stuffy crowded hall, with narrow seats. Just then the party anthem starts playing and the star marches into the theater in Palermo, shaking hands, winking and grinning. Even those in the highest seats can see the gleam reflecting off of his unnaturally white teeth. Ferrante waves back. Il Cavaliere has finally arrived.
It's a scene being played out everyday somewhere in Italy this week. Silvio Berlusconi zips around the country holding big speeches to the party faithful. On Sunday evening he was in Turin, on Monday in Milan after his Saturday morning appearance in Palermo. A rally in Naples is on the agenda for Friday.
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's scandal-plagued former prime minister, is back. Just days before Italians are set to go to the polls on Sunday and Monday, he and his party are narrowing the once sizeable lead enjoyed by center-left candidate Pier Luigi Bersani. Just how narrow that lead now is cannot be known for sure; no new survey numbers can be published in the two weeks before Italian elections. ...................(more)