All politicians do have enemies. Heads of governments fight against the opposition (Barack Obama can sing a sad song about that in these days). Conservatives are usually attacked by the trade unions, left-wingers by the employees. That's life.
The picture changes dramatically, if a political leader looses his most important allies. Exactly this happens today to Silvio Berlusconi. I'm not talking about his partners in the government coalition, even if the strange relationship between him and the Lega Nord leader Umberto Bossi would merit a separate blog-post. No, I refer to his supporters in the population, the civil society.
Exactly 10 years ago happened something, that I would call Berlusconi's "coronation-mass". I recall lively the general assembly of the powerful industrial and employee association Confindustria in Parma. The euphoria of the delegates was even for Mediterranean standards overwhelming - more than 10 minutes of standing ovations after his speech, where he promised a "liberal revolution" and a "new economic miracle". His credibility was extraordinary, not only because he was in these times still a brilliant communicator, but also due to his credentials as one of the most successful entrepreneurs and richest man of the country.
He was still the leader of the opposition. To me, in that moment it became crystal clear, that he would not only win the next elections, but that he would stay for quite a long time in power.
Today everybody knows, from the Agnellis in Turin to the hairdresser at the next corner, that Berlusconi has not kept his promises. In the last decade Italy has lagged behind it's European peers, overall Germany, in terms of economic growth and wealth-creation. The reforms of the labor market, the service-sector, the fiscal policies and the fight against red tape have not come true. The prime minister was more interested in fixing his own judicial issues and conflicts of interest via laws ad personam. Italy has not moved on.
Now the business elite wants to get rid of the man: "Deliver the reforms in 10 days, not 10 years, or go home" was the strong message of Confindustria-President Emma Marcegaglia yesterday. The export-oriented industrialists are sick of the Berlusconi-jokes they have to listen abroad: "He makes a mockery of us," says Marcegaglia. No doubt, he has lost the support from his key-allies. Without them Berlusconi cannot survive politically.