Berlusconi attack reminds Italians of 'Years of Lead'
The attack that broke Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's nose and teeth Sunday is causing Italians to worry about a return to political violence not seen since the 1970s when extremist groups attacked each other and the state.
(Page 2 of 2)
Within few hours from the attack on Berlusconi, the head of Italy's parliament, Gianfranco Fini, hinted he feared new violence may be on the way. Mr. Fini, who is also a key figure in Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party, said he was worried about the country “going back to the age of violence,” referring to the "Years of Lead."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Mr. Bidussa says the parallel might turn out to be appropriate. “Actually, I fear things may be even worse now," he says. "Besides the violence, the 70s at least witnessed a lot of positive political development, for instance on women's rights. Nowadays I don't see any constructive trend, just plenty of aggressive rhetoric.”
Left-leaning lightning rod
One of Berlusconi's most outspoken opponents, former judge turned anticorruption politician Antonio Di Pietro, has recently insinuated that the prime minister had brought violence upon himself: "With his behavior and his 'I don't give a toss' attitude, he has instigated the violence," said Mr. Di Pietro after the attack.
Conservative allies of Berlusconi are seizing on comments like these to blame Di Pietro as being a primary instigator of the attack.
“This attack clearly points out the evil that comes from a distorted use of political criticism,” said Milan's mayor and Berlusconi ally Letizia Moratti, who was next to the prime minister when he was attacked. Ms. Moratti also accused the left-leaning opposition of carrying out an “absurd demonization” of the prime minister, described as “one of the most important politicians in the history of our democracy.”
On Monday, all major newspapers published first page editorials advocating the end of inflamatory rhetoric.
The left-leaning daily La Repubblica warned that Sunday's attack “may signal a tragic era, similar to the one we have already witnessed in the darkest days of our lives” -- also a reference to the Years of Lead.
“Political hatred is intoxicating the public debate,” wrote Il Corriere della Sera, Italy's main, and more moderate, newspaper. “While hostility is mounting, [we are getting] close to a war between the two sides of the country.
Berlusconi may need weeks to recover
Mr. Tartaglia is currently being interrogated. Police reportedly found pepper spray in his pocket and believe his action was premeditated.
Berlusconi is currently hospitalized in the San Raffaele medical facility just outside Milan. He may be released from the hospital on Tuesday, but doctors say he will need two weeks to recover.
“I'm fine, I'm fine, they're not going to stop me,” the prime minister reportedly told his staff while being rushed to the emergency room “But I am saddened by this campaign of hatred [waged] against myself. That's the result of [the actions] of those who have spread discord.”