The Big Snowstorm
Giulio Tremonti (see previous post) is having some argument with Silvio Berlusconi. The two have been arguing for a long time: the last issue arose two days ago, when the Prime Minister, aiming to reignite popular support after some bad publicity in the last months, publicly announced the Government’s intention to suppress the IRAP, the Italian Regional tax on Productive activities. Giulio, the heroic Minister of Economy, has apparently reacted angrily to the PM’s remark. Tremonti supports an ‘austherity’ approach to the stagnated italian economy: Berlusconi’s indulgent stand towards the Italians sits a bit at odd with this trend, and (some say) it betrays a mere propagandistic bias to avoid some current problem of Silvio’s.
The interesting part of this domestic quarrel is that Berlusconi was due to return from Russia yesterday, to meet members of the executive to clarify the Government’s next steps in economic policy. He went to Russia for an unpublicized meeting with Vladimir Putin. It is well known that the two are best-mates: it has been recently discovered, for example, that Putin has his special bed in Berlusconi’s Grazioli Palace in Rome.
Rumours about this meeting in Moscow had it that there was a video-conference with Turkey’s Prime Minister RT Erdogan. What they had to talk about, we are not allowed to know.
Suddenly, Berlusconi cancelled his afternoon return from Moscow, hence postponing the (already postponed) meeting with Tremonti in Rome, which for some would have been more of a showdown. The official reason was that a big snowstorm had hit Russia, and the Italian PM’s helicopter could not take off. Berlusconi returned eventually yesterday and is due to meet his fellow ministers today. The funny thing is that no flight from/to Russia was cancelled, on that day, due to bad weather. Nor has any webcam in and around Moscow showed any sign of this autumn snowstorm.. Instead, what has been shown are pics of Silvio and Vladimir driving a powerful boat, having a good time and enjoying their never ending support for freedom of the press. This is how Berlusconi famously addressed a russian journalist who was pressing him on one of the scandals in which he is involved, shortly after the murder of Anna Politkovskaja:
Look at Vladimnir’s bemused face.
Why did Berlusconi make up this snowstorm deal then? Some say he was trying to avoid the showdown with the executive, or at least to postpone it. Tremonti, informed of Berlusconi’s delayed return from Russia due to the snowstorm, commented: “I don’t think this is due to snow. I rather think it is due to ‘fog’ “. Metaphors we live by.