The political life in Italy used with few exeptions always to be a "teatrino", a little theater. Showbiz. Entertainment, not too serious. Sure, the differences are huge between say a Giulio Andreotti and a Silvio Berlusconi, but there are not so many western democracies, where even porno stars have been elected as member of the Parliament.
Having said so, it is noteworthy, that in the long Berlusconi-years this already low level of political culture has even deteriorated. The "Cavaliere" has impressingly shown during the 17 years, that he spent in the political arena a scarce sense for the the democratic institutions and the rule of law. Avoiding taxes? An acceptable piccadillo, he once said. And his advice to the workers of Fiat in a sicilian plant, that risked the closure, he adviced: "Look for some clandestine work and than you can make it!" If a prime minister, who acts by definition as a role model for a country and it's people spreads such messages, no wonder that not only the polotical but also the civilian culture suffers.
When I saw last week the new government sitting in the aula of the Senate I thought spontaneously: Wow, what a difference! A totally new style....here are sitting serious people, interested only in the tasks and the challenges that they have to tackle. Mario Monti, the new PM, stayed seated for the whole long session. With diligence he took notes of the questions of the Senators and responded one on one precisely and without any trace of arrogance. It was a demonstration of his seriousness and his respect for the parliament
Differently Berlusconi never stayed seated for more than half an hour. And even then he didn't listen to the speeches, but usually chatted with some of his ministers. He hardly could hide his disinterest in the debates. He never responded questions diligently. He was always full of arrogance in order to show that he is the boss of the government and the parliamentarians are nothing else than Yes-men servicing the executive power.
Also visually the differences between the last cabinet of Berlusconi and the one of Monti, that was sworn in Wednesday could not be bigger: from al 24 ministers of the last administration maybe five or six were really ministrable, Finance Minister Tremonti for example. The rest: unacceptable for an important country. Take Umberto Bossi, the Lega Nord leader and last Minister for Reforms, admittedly a ill man after a stroke three hears ago. He fell during the sessions regularly to sleep, wor dirty shirts and had not an appropriate level of personal hygiene. Too many, too nice, too model-like were the female ministers. And effectively, when you didn't look only at them but you listened to them, you uderstood suddenly that they were not chosen for their competencies but for different reasons by the Cavaliere.
The new cabinet under the PM Mario Monti may be is a little bit grey on it's public perception. All these professors, civil servants and people from the institutions are used to be very careful in their expressions. But this new, this sober style will help not only the government, but Italy, to regain the seriousness on front of the Italians as well as internationally, it has lost under the show-regime of the TV-entrepreneur Silvio Berlusconi.