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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.
Italy’s far-left alliance of Communists and Greens may not conjure up images of glitz and New York steaks, but leader Fausto Bertinotti has nevertheless picked the Hard Rock Cafe on Rome’s fashionable Via Veneto to wait out the tally of election results on Monday evening. Conveniently located next to the American Embassy, the Hard Rock promises everything from hickory smoked chicken wings to mac & cheese to help ease the long wait ahead for the leader of the Rainbow Left coalition.
Other candidates have chosen more traditional venues for the evening: the centre-right’s Silvio Berlusconi will be waiting it out at his villa in Arcore near Milan, while centre-left rival Walter Veltroni will be standing by at his party’s offices in Rome dubbed the “Loft”.
The judicial problems in Italy of former Justice Minister Clemente Mastella’s wife Sandra signaled the start of the political crisis that forced Italians back to the ballot box on Sunday and Monday, and she was back in the news over a ringing cellphone as she cast her vote.
Italy’s interior ministry has banned Italians from carrying cellphones or any device that can take pictures or videos into the voting booth, over fears of corruption. Sandra Mastella caused a minor stir when her cell phone started ringing while she voted in the southern town of Ceppaloni on Sunday, prompting electoral workers to call in the police. It turns out her cell phone did not double as a camera, meaning she was not violating the law.
As Italians began trickling to the polls to vote in the general election on Sunday, some protested to show their disillusionment with politics.
Angry at plans to build a landfill site nearby, one group of young Neapolitans gathered 600 election identification cards and sent them to the Italian president instead of using them to vote.
With her striking good looks and stiletto heels, Italy’s far-right candidate Daniela Santanche has been turning heads on the campaign trail. But is centre-right candidate Silvio Berlusconi also among her admirers?
“Berlusconi? He’s obsessed with me. But I won’t give it to him…,” Santanche said during a campaign stop this week.