By Mick Krever, CNN
Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister of Italy, will never again be part of the Italian government, another former prime minister, Mario Monti, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
“I definitely do not believe that this time around Mister Berlusconi can escape his fate,” Monti told Amanpour from Rome.
Berlusconi, the 77-year-old former leader convicted of tax fraud, backed down on Wednesday from trying to upend the coalition government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
Letta won a confidence vote in Italy’s parliament by a wide margin on Wednesday.
“In a sense [Berlusconi put up a brave face,” Monti said. “Certainly everybody but the sense that Mister Berlusconi lost out.”
“He has been pronounced defeated and out of politics many, many times in the past,” Monti said, “He has given proof of an incredible resilience, but I believe this time he will not.”
“I strongly hope that Mister Letta,” Monti said, “now that he has brilliantly overcome this difficult trap that Mister Bersluconi had been preparing for him, will become more forthcoming, more daring, more ready to expose to the public opinion in the country the tricks and delaying games that the two main parties too often make use of.”
Letta, Monti told Amanpour, has a lot going for him, because he chairs a “grand coalition” that includes parties from the left and right.
“I think the prime minister who runs such a grand coalition needs to be pushing on the political parties,” Monti said. “He needs to present them with packages of measures, which are good for the country even though they displease both constituencies, on the right and on the left.”
Italy is a country that, as Monti pointed out, can scarcely afford political crises of such magnitude.
It is struggled to emerge from an economic morass – 40.1% of its youth are employed, an issue that Letta said was “his nightmare” in an interview with Amanpour this July.
Europe as a whole needs more growth, Monti told Amanpour, “but in the case of Italy and a few others, there are more specific structural problems that prevent youth employment.”
Specifically, he pointed out two changes that were needed.
First, he said, “we have a system of labor laws and practice which is over protective vis a vis those who do have a job, who are in the labor market.”
In other words, those who are employed are overly protected, making it hard for the youth to enter the labor marker.
And two, Italy needs “a huge focus on increasing the country’s competitiveness.”