The Italian antitrust authority told the parliament on Monday it should consider laws on conflicts of interest for the sake of the country’s image. “Revisiting the current protocol regarding conflicts of interest could improve the workings of institutions and the image of the country abroad,” said a report.
There has been talk of a conflict-of-interest law ever since former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who owns Italy’s three biggest commercial TV channels as well as its largest publishing group, entered politics in 1994 and swept to victory with his then Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party. Observers have noted there is already a clause in voting rules declaring ineligible anyone with a State concession – a provision that has not been applied to Berlusconi so far.
But both the center-left Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) have vowed to implement it, unless Berlusconi is not blocked from taking office by one of his trials. Berlusconi is appealing a four-year tax-fraud sentence for film rights bought by his Mediaset group and a one-year term for publishing an illegally obtained wiretap, while he faces trial for allegedly paying a Senator to switch sides in 2006.
Berlusconi, leader of the center-right People of Freedom‘s party, on Monday said Italy’s new government shouldn’t worry itself with a conflict of interest law, but should concentrate on the economy.