Monti to the Rescue: But Is the Technocrat Italian Enough to Save Italy?

Time has just published my story on the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi and the rise of Mario Monti.

Silvio Berlusconi’s last public act as prime minister of Italy was to drive through a crowd of protesters who were yelling “buffoon” and “shame” at him. The streets outside the presidential palace pulsated with chanting demonstrators, waving Italian flags and popping champagne bottles as the 75-year-old media tycoon met with Italy’s president to tender his resignation. In one corner, a choir sang “Hallelujah,” accompanied by an impromptu orchestra. In another, celebrants formed a conga line. Cars honked their horns and pedestrians broke into song. That night, to avoid being mobbed, the politician who so loved the spotlight was forced to leave by the side door.

Scandal-ridden, populist, extravagant, Berlusconi is expected to be replaced by a man who couldn’t be more dissimilar. Mario Monti, 68, a neo-liberal economist and former commissioner at the European Union, is the ultimate technocrat, calm, elegant, even a little boring. “The man is the most un-Berlusconiesque person you can think of,” says Beppe Severgnini, author of Mamma Mia!: Berlusconi’s Italy Explained to Posterity and Friends Abroad. “He’s like clean water after you’ve been drinking too much.”

Read the rest.