Dancing Savoy heir on the European campaign trail
Fresh from his success on the TV show Dancing with the Stars, Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia, grandson of the last king of Italy, is campaigning in June’s European elections for Italy’s small centrist party, the Union of Christian Democrats (UDC).
“I had offers from other parties but I feel culturally close to the UDC and its leader Pier Ferdinando Casini,” Filiberto told Reuters on the campaign trail in the small northwestern Piedmont town of Crescentino. “I feel close to its family values, its Christian roots, its ties with the homeland, which I have supported since I’ve been in Italy.”
Emanuele Filiberto, born in Switzerland in 1972, is a member of the House of Savoy, the Italian ruling dynasty whose male heirs were exiled in 1948 because of its relations with the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. The family was allowed back into Italy in 2002.
“I did Dancing with the Stars to get myself better known by Italians,” said Filiberto, who won the competition and is standing in the European elections for the northwestern region of Italy, where the Savoy dynasty has its origins. “First and foremost, however, I feel Italian and since my return to Italy I’ve always wanted to do what I can to help my country.” In Crescentino, he was mobbed by locals at the town fair.
Filiberto, married to French actress Clotilde Courau, is not new to politics and stood for election with his “Valori e Futuro” party in Italian parliamentary elections last year. That foray into politics ended unsuccessfully but many think the backing of Casini’s UDC will give him more appeal and visibility this time round.
The UDC, heir to the once powerful Christian Democrat party, won about 5.6 percent of the vote in Italy’s 2008 elections. According to the polls, it is expected to get 6-7 percent of the vote in the European elections compared with almost 40 percent for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party.
Filiberto bemoans recent controversy over the fielding of attractive young women as candidates for Berlusconi’s ruling centre-right party in the European elections. He said more needed to be done to promote the image of Italy overseas.
“I’ve travelled the world and I’m afraid Italy has never been taken seriously. That’s a pity since the country deserves much more with its wealth of craftsmen, its small- and medium-sized companies, its inventors, its artists,” he said.
Filiberto — who intends to do his campaigning on the road as well as on the Internet through Facebook — is keen to help his constituency by promoting tourism and ecology, fighting the cause of the disabled and supporting the region’s small businesses.
“Hearing about Fiat (the Italian auto maker based in the northwest’s biggest city, Turin) and what’s happening there is great but let’s not forget there are hundreds of small enterprises suffering as we speak and they need help.”
PHOTO: Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia (FILE PICTURE)