Bilingual blog on the vote
After winning Italy’s election, 71-year-old Silvio Berlusconi has spoken a great deal about being older and wiser in the ways of politics, having already served twice as prime minister. But there is no doubt that the conservative billionaire — thanks to cosmetic surgery including a hair transplant — looks much younger in many ways than he did when he last won a parliamentary election in 2001. Compare the pictures above, the first from his 2008 campaign and the second from November seven years ago.
Berlusconi, a former cruise ship crooner who built a media empire from scratch, is proud of his appearance. He bragged on Tuesday that one foreign correspondent had even asked him if he was younger than his 52-year-old election rival — Walter Veltroni.
I remember at a press conference in 2004, Berlusconi was asked about his hair transplant and said that he believed his more youthful image made him a better ambassador for Italy.
“I have taken one of the choices of modern life,” he said at the time. “It is a way of showing respect to those who share your life, your family. It is a way of showing respect to those who expect you to represent them on an international and national stage.”
The Rainbow Left alliance, which includes remnants of Italy’s once-mighty communist party, somewhat surprisingly decided to hold what was meant to be its election night celebration at Rome’s Hard Rock café.
An apt choice for the DJ might have been “God Save The Queen” by the Sex Pistols, with its refrain of “There’s no future, no future, no future for you”.
from Global News Journal:
Does Italy like a good loser?
"As is customary in all Western democracy, and as I feel it is right to do, I called the leader of the People of Freedom, Silvio Berlusconi, to acknowledge his victory and wish him good luck in his job," Veltroni told reporters, bowing to the inevitable, even if final results were hours away.
Berlusconi has never admitted losing the 2006 election which he blamed on fraud and Veltroni's noble gesture seemed to be the latest effort to imitate his much-admired counterparts in the Anglo-Saxon world where 'fair play' is, in theory, considered a virtue.
from Global News Journal:
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".
from Global News Journal:
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.
Movie buff Walter Veltroni may be the underdog in Italy’s election, but at least he can count on a few friends in Hollywood.
With George Clooney touring Italy to present his latest film “Leatherheads”, Veltroni made sure TV cameras were at hand when the two shared a coffee in a Milan bar.
from Global News Journal:
When I told my wife that I was going to meet porn star Milly D'Abbraccio at her apartment the other day, during office hours, with a camera crew, she had the same reaction that my boss did: sounds like a great story. That's because D'Abbraccio is running for public office, just like Cicciolina did decades ago.
If Cicciolina was known for her impromptu striptease, then D'Abbraccio's calling card must be her bottom -- which she plastered on campaign posters gracing the walls of the Eternal City (see below). Her campaign poster complains that Italians are tired of the same old faces in politics, and uses the Italian swear word for backside to describe what their faces look like.
At a campaign rally next to the Colosseum in Rome on Thursday evening, Silvio Berlusconi and his allies spoke out against illegal immigration and vowed to make stamping it out a priority if elected.
At times the rhetoric was vehement — and then drew some of the loudest cheers of the night.
Their hardline stance may be partly because they fear losing votes to Franceso Storace’s right-wing party “La Destra” (The Right). The party’s candidate for prime minister, the feisty Daniela Santanche, this week had a high-profile clash with Berlusconi on women’s issues.
Alfredo Antoniozzi, running for president of the province of Rome, kicked things off at Thursday’s rally, complaining that so-called “clandestini” were “infesting” Italy’s streets. Rome mayor candidate Gianni Alemanno pledged to expel 20,000 illegal immigrants immediately on taking office: “We want to feel like masters in our own home! We want to liberate Rome from this degradation!”
Alemanno belongs to the Alleanza Nazionale party, which traces its roots to Italian fascism. (The grandaughter of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, Alessandra Mussolini, appeared on stage in the latter part of the rally.)
Alleanza leader Gianfranco Fini promised that if Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party wins the election, the law would be changed to make sure that expulsions of illegal immigrants were actually carried out.
Rules on immigration are enshrined in a law that bears Fini’s name and that of Umberto Bossi, the leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League that is also allied to Berlusconi.
(Reuters colleague Gilles Castonguay wrote a great blog about the Northern League’s anti-immigrant campaign last week.)
When Berlusconi finally took to the stage, after a stirring rendition of the Italian national anthem, he accused his centre-left rivals of opening Italy’s borders and allowing in large numbers of illegal immigrants. This had gravely compromised the safety of Italy’s streets and could not be tolerated any longer, he said.
One of the biggest laughs of the evening came when Berlusconi suggested his centre-left rival Walter Veltroni emigrate to Africa.
Ultime ore, approfittate gente. I contenuti continuano a latitare: è il florilegio della battuta. Oggi le prime pagine i contendenti se le sono guadagnate a suon di patti di lealtà e di test di sanità mentale per magistrati.
Per domani la situazione non si presenta molto diversa. I dibattiti di giornata registrano infatti almeno tre battute degne di nota per una segnalazione nei blog (sperando che non riescano a scalare nuovamente anche le prime pagine dei quotidiani). La prima è quella di un Berlusconi che si rimangia l’offerta alle minoranze della presidenza di una delle due Camere, avendo affermato che finché Napolitano non molla il Quirinale è impensabile che il Senato possa essere lasciato al centrosinistra (o forse, come l’hanno interpretato i più, era solo una autocandidatura al Quirinale invitando l’attuale inquilino a lasciare libero il posto).
A study by two Italian psychology professors I unearthed on the Internet throws light on the effect Silvio Berlusconi’s influence over the nation’s media can have on the minds of ordinary Italians.
It appears to suggest that the former prime minister’s image is deeply engrained in the psyche of Italians and this may give him an electoral advantage.