In her perplexity about Silvio Berlusconi, Giorgia Meloni took refuge in a fable on Tuesday night: “With Berlusconi it is like with the scorpion and the frog.” In this story, the former asks the latter to give him a piggyback ride across a river, and assures , he will not stab him, otherwise he would drown himself. After the scorpion has delivered the deadly sting to the frog in the middle of the river and they both go under, the scorpion explains to the horrified frog that stabbing is just part of its nature.
The sting of the scorpion is Berlusconi’s worm’s-eye view of Meloni’s continued torpedoing of the collective project of a centre-right coalition led by the first woman to hold the highest office in government. After that, the 86-year-old macho Berlusconi simply cannot help but fight against a woman who is a good four decades his junior, even though the failure he caused would also mean his own.
The reason for Meloni’s indignation at Berlusconi was his claim on Tuesday morning that the justice department in the new cabinet, as he had requested, would be taken over by former Senate President Maria Elisabetta Casellati, a close confidante of Berlusconi from his Christian Democratic party Forza Italia. The day before, Berlusconi and the designated Prime Minister Meloni had agreed that Carlo Nordio, a respected criminal prosecutor and judge who made a name for himself in the fight against left-wing terrorism and political corruption and who stood in the early parliamentary elections, would be given the important government post September 25 as a candidate from Melonis party Brothers of Italy had won a seat in the Chamber of Deputies.
Meloni’s party resides under the address of the neo-fascists
For the meeting with Meloni on Monday, Berlusconi came to the party headquarters of the Brothers of Italy at Via della Scrofa 39 in the heart of Rome’s old town. The address is of supreme historical importance for Italy’s extreme right. This is where Giorgio Almirante (1914 to 1988), a self-confessed racist and loyal companion of Benito Mussolini, moved into quarters in 1946 with his neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) until his bitter end before a partisan firing squad on April 28, 1945.
Almirante led the party from Via della Scrofa for more than four decades. In 1995 the MSI gave birth to the post-fascist Alleanza Nazionale (AN), which condemned Mussolini’s fascism as “absolute evil”. Finally, in 2012, after another political moult, the AN became the right-wing conservative Brothers of Italy party. The fact that Meloni and her party have moved back into the historic headquarters of the MSI are held against her by critics as proof that she is not as serious about her alleged absolute break with neo-fascism as she always claims.
In any case, Berlusconi’s visit to Meloni’s in the Via della Scrofa was both a penance and a kneel. Over the years, it was customary for the four-time Prime Minister and billionaire entrepreneur to receive his fellow campaigners and allies in one of his opulent villas or magnificent residences: as a sign of his political and financial supremacy. In the three-way alliance with Meloni’s brothers in Italy, who won the elections with 26 percent, and the right-wing national Lega of former interior minister Matteo Salvini, which got almost nine percent, Berlusconi with his Forza Italia and their only eight percent votes only plays third fiddle .
At the constituent meeting of the Senate on Thursday, Berlusconi expressed his displeasure at not being able to get his way as he used to with a curious note. He then noted that Meloni was “opinionated, haughty, arrogant and insulting”. As expected, the cameras in the Senate auditorium captured the angry note. When asked about the note distributed by all the media on Friday evening, Meloni replied that one important attribute was missing: “not blackmailable”.