Every system has its anomalies and in 1994 Italy produced the model for President-elect Trump. Donald Trump was a household name when Silvio Berlusconi decided to enter politics. While both share character traits in line with their business lives there are differences and similarities between them that will help us to look towards a Trump Presidency.
Silvio Berlusconi, former controversial Italian Prime Minister did not have a rich family from which to inherit his wealth.
He was truly a self-made man who built up his own fortune, even though there are still serious doubts about the source of his funding at the beginning of his entrepreneurial career. Both men are natural born salesmen and will say what is required at any particular moment to sell their products, whether it is real estate or their political careers.
The two businessmen become politicians are also supremely self-confident, they believe that they are intrinsically the best at what they do and do not require advice on any matter. Berlusconi formed an advisory committee of luminaries at the beginning of his career, but this lasted only a short time as he continually ignored their advice and often made decisions on the spur of the moment.
Berlusconi entered politics to avoid the consequences of the "Clean Hands" corruption scandal which threatened to involve him directly and he succeeded in this aim. On the other hand, nobody has as yet understood the true reason for Trump's foray into the world of politics..
The two magnates epitomize laissez-faire entrepreneurialism and both have little patience with the requirements of tax laws. Trump clearly showed this during the presidential debates and Berlusconi not only changed Italy’s tax laws but once stated as Prime Minister that anyone who had to pay more than 35% in tax had the moral right not to pay them.
Both show open disdain for conflict of interest issues because they see no conflict between their personal, or business interests and their role in setting public policy.
Naturally, neither of the two nouveau politicians would have been able to build up their race for office without important media backing. Trump did this through various media outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart News, whereas Berlusconi already owned important newspapers and three national television networks which effectively became the propaganda arms of his political organization. He would then ensure that important posts in Italy’s State broadcasting networks were held by people closely aligned with his interests, both political and economic..
Trump, Berlusconi, and Putin
Yet the cause of greatest worry is the foreign politician which both have in common - Russia’s Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin. Trump’s links with Putin are more by association than by direct personal contacts, involving not only the accusations of Russian interference in the presidential campaign, but also the Russian links of members of his election and also of some of those nominated to high office such as Rex W Tillerson named as the future Secretary of State.
Berlusconi has close personal contacts with Putin which raised concerns about his business contacts with the Russians including allegations by some American intelligence agencies that he has personal stakes in Russian energy companies.
Lastly, there are also similarities in their attitudes towards women. Trump with the comments made in the leaked tape that caused controversy during the election campaign and Berlusconi with the very public trials regarding the so-called “bunga bunga” parties that are still subject to court action in Italy.
These comparisons may mean nothing to Trump’s period in office, but we must bear in mind that Berlusconi’s political career ended in scandal and disgrace. Given the many Trump controversies, it will be interesting to see if the similarities continue into the future. #Vladimir Putin #Silvio Berlsuconi #Donald Trump