By Lucky Gold, CNN
In case you thought the United States was the only country flailing, and failing, at governing itself, imagine a world where the government can fall at the whim of a 77-year-old convict.
Italy, which held its umpteenth election just nine months ago, teeters on the brink of political chaos yet again, following a power play by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
This past weekend, five members of Berlusconi's "People of Liberty” party – a name only George Orwell could love – withdrew from the fragile coalition government, forcing a vote of confidence on Wednesday.
In a dramatic about-face, Berlusconi announced on Wednesday that his party would support Prime Minister Enrico Letta in the confidence vote.
Berlusconi, the septuagenarian Caesar who refuses to fall on his sword, lays the blame on a proposed increase in Italy’s value-added tax.
Still others say he crossed the Rubicon to prevent a vote that could banish him from the senate – after he was sentenced to jail for tax fraud.
In the ignoble tradition of the Emperor Caligula, who made his horse a roman senator, Berlusconi has once again turned the Italian government into a three-ring political Circus Maximus.