The 76-year-old former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pulled the rug from under the technocratic government of Mario Monti.
Monti's government had relied on support from both the right and the left to push through austerity laws in order to calm the financial markets and ensure that Italy would not go the way of other European states which required a bailout.
This ended when Berlusconi's party voted no confidence in Monti. Angelino Alfano the secretary of Berlusconi's party announced "the experience of Monti in power is over." Berlusconi attacked Monti, claiming that Monti and his team in one year of power had only worsened Italy's political and economic situation.
Silvio Berlusconi claims that when he enters the field he does so in order to win. Italy is due for elections by early March and there are rumors that Berlusconi is assembling a team of All-Stars from the economic field (with an emphasis on high-tech) whom he can present to the voters, much in the way that he assembles players for his AC Milan football team. His formidable newspaper and broadcasting empire will also be mobilized.
Many of Berlusconi's former allies, who helped him capture power previously, are now at odds with him. The President of Italy's lower chamber, Gianfranco Fini, disparaged the presumed comeback "as everybody knows the dinosaurs belong to another geological era." Pierferdinando Casini of the centrist Christian Democratic Union was less inclined to treat this as a joke, feeling that it was infantile to try to undermine Monti, who was trying to save Italy from economic disaster .
One of Silvio Berlusconi's old adversaries, Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, who was in Oslo as part of an EU delegation to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, was sharply critical.
When Silvio Berlusconi addressed the European Parliament a few years back he was heckled by Schulz and this drew Berlusconi's retort that Schulz would make a perfect concentration camp guard in a Hollywood movie. This accusation led to diplomatic protests by Germany.
Schulz accuses Berlusconi of being against stability precisely at a moment when Europe requires stability, and "so many of Italy's problems are the results of 10 years in which Berlusconi was Prime Minister."
He added "The Italians know well who was the source of the problems and who has contributed to resolving them."