By Gregorio Bettiza

Commentators worldwide have been astounded by Silvio Berlusconi’s political survival skills. Many ask how is it possible that the center-right coalition, headed by a man marred by links to the mafia, corruption and prostitution scandals, and who has left Italy’s economy and international reputation in tatters, was able to gather a whopping 30 percent of the national consensus. It was not a triumph for Mr. Berlusconi. He overall lost the elections and his own party collected 22 percent of the vote, substantially less than in the previous 2008 electoral round. Yet there is still a sizable chunk of the Italian electorate that clings to him and his coalition. Why?