The relationship in the course of 2002 between Silvio Berlusconi’s
government and the judges was one of continued and unrelenting
conflict. Few days passed wherein justice was not a central news item.
Accounts of battles between the government and the judiciary carried
titles such as “the duel,” and offered complex descriptions of the
moves and countermoves, in both Parliament and the courts, involving
the government, the opposition, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and
the accused. Cases of political, administrative, and business corruption
still came to light from different parts of the country, such as
Turin, Milan, Potenza, Salerno, and Agrigento. But the heady days of
Tangentopoli were long over: it was now the judges who were themselves
under attack. For most of the year, Berlusconi and his associates
cast themselves in the role of victims by arguing that they were
being prosecuted and tried by politically and personally biased judges.
The judiciary was made the object of co-ordinated mass media campaigns
that set out in particular to discredit the Milan court and more
generally to show that when judges’ actions were effective, they were
often illegitimate, and that when they were legitimate, they were usually
not effective. Although some of the printed media still gave
unswerving support to the judges, there was little doubt that the initiative
had passed to the government and its parliamentary majority.