Berlusconi does not want top job after all

A withdrawal just before today's presidential election: The 85-year-old former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi pulled out of the presidential race on Saturday. Commentators see this as a serious turning point.

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Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Berlusconism lives on

At least Italy has been spared the nightmare of a Berlusconi presidency for the time being, Der Tagesspiegel comments:

“As president he would have continued his PR campaign against judges and the rule of law, belittled women and pursued his corporate interests. And let's not forget, some ten years ago he was even sentenced to four years in jail for tax fraud. ... The worst thing isn't his narcissism or his detachment from reality. What is frightening is a political right that, had he gathered the necessary number of votes, would have hoisted him into office. A right that constantly has the words 'honour' and 'order' in its mouth - and only there - and in addition has the best chances of gaining a majority after the next general elections in 2023. ... One thing is certain: Berlusconism, its terrible legacy, continues to weigh on Italy.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

The end of an era

Berlusconi's pulling out has decisive consequences for the centre-right alliance, La Repubblica believes:

“This presidential election is the first major political event of the post-Berlusconi era in the sense that the Cavaliere's candidacy and his decision not to run marks the end of a long adventure. ... For the first time the principle of reality has triumphed over the ideology of the ego in which nothing is unattainable for the leader and anything goes for him. ... Berlusconi has deprived [other right-wing party leaders] Salvini and Meloni, the eternal contenders for the leadership role, of any alibi. The wait is over, the moment has come.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Italy's future depends on this election

La Vanguardia compares the situation with the election of a new pope:

“The current president Mattarella has set the bar very high. ... The parties of the right-wing coalition are now without a candidate after Silvio Berlusconi threw in the towel when he realised he had no support. ... The centre-left is also looking for a common candidate. ... Draghi is the favourite, but his election would mean having to find a new prime minister, which would be very complicated because the current coalition supporting him is made up of very different parties. ... A process begins today that has been compared to papal conclaves, and on the outcome of which Italy's political future depends.”