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Berlusconi's Acquittal Is The End Of An Era

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Time to go home, comrades. The war is over and we have lost. For 20 long years we doubted our premier, we accused him of frequenting prostitutes and using his power for personal gain. Wrong. The man is, actually, a politician of integrity.

From the maximum sentence, seven years, to total absolution. Innocent. In reality, he still has multiple convictions on the books, but the most infamous one -- the "bunga bunga" parties, which earned him worldwide ridicule -- has been lifted from his shoulders.

Forget the idea by Matteo Renzi, the mayor of Florence, to "scrap" the whole Italian political establishment. The only thing "scrapped" here is the pillar of political struggle. It is the end of an era. So, we give up. We got it all wrong. At the end of the day, there are winners and losers, and it's time to accept defeat.

But before closing the door, I would like to share a couple of lessons that I am taking away from this defeat.

The first is that the part that hurts (yes, I said "hurts") me the most about this sentence is not the acquittal of the crime of prostitution. I've never been a moralist. Who cares if the prime minister likes to throw inelegant parties? At the most, he must be accountable to his women, who have in fact made him pay. Instead, the acquittal of the crime of extortion is pitiful. Help me understand: A prime minister can call the police station and put pressure on the government leaders and employees -- whom we depend on for respecting the law -- and can claim that it's not pressure, but a legitimate action?

I'm a little sensitive about this issue because years ago, for the show "In mezz'ora," I happened to interview Annamaria Fiorillo. She is the judge who was supposed to give the final ruling on Ruby, the teenager at the center of the prostitution scandal, being released from the custody of Milan police to a Berlusconi aide for an unrelated charge of theft. The judge was on television and shaking like a lamb as she recounted the pressure she was subjected to, the phone calls she received, and the impatience of the police. She was still shaken by the consequences of that night.

But we were wrong. All of them were wrong. It was no more than a phone call from the premier about a girl. Normal. Starting tomorrow, every time my daughter brings me a stack of traffic tickets, I'll call the office to say, "Don't you know who I am?" After all, it is not a crime, and maybe it would work.

The second lesson to be drawn from this sentence is that the Italian center-right should be applauded. It always claimed that judges are politicized. Does it turn out that this is true? Or is it that the judges are very careful about seasonal political climates? Otherwise, how can one explain such a radical swing between the maximum sentence and the acquittal?

But it must be said that there is an advantage to the current solution. We can relax. When, in the future, we re-read the history of the Italian political leader who signed reforms that will change the system in place since 1948, he will not be called a convict. Instead, he'll be called a politician of integrity and, in addition, a victim of political persecution. We can definitely relax: We have a "father of his country" alongside Matteo Renzi. That was the point, right? Italy was in need of reform, and if it was necessary to do it with a convict, it was okay to just remove the conviction.

The acquittal thus solves the major problem facing the premier, and the biggest problem that Italian President Giorgio Napolitano wanted to solve. One imagines that the president was a third party while they were playing with the destinies of so many people. But perhaps the judges know how to interpret words as well silences. In any case, we will not get to challenge their decision.

A generation is defeated by this sentence. But we hope that those who have won are actually right, and that it was worth all the pain we have gone through. I would not like to find myself in the shoes of those who are victorious for now, but who will be ashamed in the future.

This post was translated from Italian and was originally published on L'Huffington Post.

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