Today I got the chance to speak with the very sharp and funny Italian columnist Beppe Severgnini to get his take on Silvio Berlusconi's continued survival. It didn't really fit into the interview, but I also asked him if he was surprised by yesterday's violent clashes in Rome, perpetrated by the Black Bloc anarchist group, which was the only major reported violent incident out of the "Occupy" protests held in over 900 cities this weekend. Here's what he had to say:
I was not surprised. This time they were marching aginst high finance, like Occupy Wall Street. A few weeks ago it was against a new high-speed train and there were violent clashes for weeks. Before that it was schools. Before that it was the G8.
Obviously, there are a group of very nasty people who want to create havoc and they just enter into whatever peaceful demonstration they can. We're talking about hundreds of people. They move around Italy, with their friends from abroad, and they create havoc. It's time to stop giving them these opportunities.
Italy's defense minister blamed the leftist protesters for creating the conditions for violence with rhetoric implying that "everything is justifiable as long as we get rid of Berlusconi, the 'evil of Italy.'" One "occupy" marcher objected to the charge, telling Reuters, "We are the real indignant ones," one said. "They stole our day."
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images