Berlusconi Says His Power, Like Mussolini's, Isn't as Great as Perceived

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi cited Benito Mussolini’s diaries and said that he, like the fascist dictator, is thought to wield considerable power, but actually has “practically nothing.”

Berlusconi, speaking at the annual meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris yesterday, diverged from prepared comments about budget cuts to address the subject of political power.

“He who heads a government has virtually no power,” Berlusconi said. “I dare to cite a phrase by someone considered to be a great dictator, Benito Mussolini. In his diaries I recently read the phrase ‘they say I have power, but it’s not true.’”

Mussolini, known as Il Duce, ruled Italy from 1922 until his death in 1945 as World War II ended. His granddaughter, Alessandra Mussolini, is a member of parliament and a Berlusconi ally. Berlusconi, who entered politics in 1993, won three out of the past five national elections and has presided over the longest government in postwar Italy.

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