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Italy’s hybrid candidate: “Veltrusconi”

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Silvio Berlusconi in recent campaign shotThe Italian media thought they coined the term “Veltrusconi” for the possibility of a post-electoral deal between twice prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his centre-left rival, Walter Veltroni, late last year when they began brief discussions about electoral reform, but the word is reported as appearing as red-painted graffiti on a school in Rome as long ago as July 2007, along with the words: “the two-headed monster”. But even though the word has been bandied about liberally in the media ever since, both candidates for April 13-14′s vote were horrified to see their faces physically merge in a disconcerting photo-montage on the front cover of Newsweek.

“It’s horrible,” Veltroni told reporters in response to the hybrid created by Newsweek for a cover story titled “The Mayor V. The Mogul”. It shows the faces of the permanently tanned 71-year-old media tycoon Berlusconi and his bespectacled, bookish 52-year-old rival blending together to the backdrop of Rome’s Colosseum.

“Veltrusconi? It’s an ugly word with no meaning,” said Berlusconi.

Both candidates have constantly denied speculation in the Italian media and among politicians of a “Grand Coalition”, which would last just as long as it takes to reform electoral laws to create a two-party system, then be followed by yet another general election, though they have both acknowledged the possibility of a dead heat or very close result in the upper house or Senate and left the door open to talks on “institutional reform”.Walter Veltroni in recent campaign picture

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