Goodbye to the G-8

by Henry Farrell on November 24, 2008

“Gideon Rachman”: says what I’ve been thinking.

In fact, I would even argue that the G8 was quite well-placed to see off the upstart G20 – were it not for one thing. Next year it will be presided over by that one-man wrecking crew, Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy. Berlusconi has a “sense of humour” that makes him a uniquely disastrous chair for international organisations. His presidency of the European Union in 2003 was catastrophic. He caused uproar in the European Parliament by comparing a German politician to a Nazi concentration-camp guard. In an official photo, he made the sign of the cuckold’s horns behind the head of a Spanish minister. He opened a summit designed to discuss the future of Europe by suggesting to his fellow leaders that they discuss women and football instead. Then he turned to the chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder, and suggested that he should open the discussion since he had been married four times. Amazingly enough, Schroeder did not see the funny side.

Not that any of this is likely to hurt his domestic approval ratings or anything (the public persona he has constructed for himself is quite extraordinary), but it certainly should be interesting to watch from a safe distance.



Brock 11.24.08 at 4:57 pm

“Cuckold’s horns”? Is that the sign we used to call “rabbit ears” in elementary school?


Phil 11.24.08 at 6:12 pm

It’s basically the rock sign and a common insult to referees in Italy.


richard 11.24.08 at 6:54 pm

Brock, did you go to elementary school in Spain? In England the same sign, not placed behind someone’s head, can mean either “V for victory” or be a terrible insult (orig. “we will kill you”) depending on whether you show the medial or lateral surface of the hand. Such signs are highly variable in local meaning. In Spain it’s cuckold’s horns – as far as I can tell, also in Italy.


Phil 11.24.08 at 7:39 pm


richard 11.24.08 at 9:16 pm

Hah! That’ll teach me to go mouthing off without seeing the picture in question. I was referring to quite a different gesture. I haven’t seen that one called “horns of the cuckold.”


Walt 11.24.08 at 10:46 pm

What the picture can’t show is that Berlusconi was shouting “Motörhead!” while he made the gesture.


Alex 11.25.08 at 1:04 pm

I had successfully either repressed or forgotten that Berlusconi was going to chair the G-8. Thanks for reminding me.


Julian 11.27.08 at 8:53 am

If you are so gormless as to get married four times, like Schroeder, you must expect people to laugh.

Sorry to state the obvious.

Didn’t he dump one of his Fraus because she was a vegetarian and wouldn’t cook him sausages?

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