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Pss! Wanna buy some votes? -  Il Sole-24 Ore/Presseurop

Times change, but one tradition in the south of Italy appears to be here to stay: the buying and selling of votes. Three candidates in the European elections told us about their experience, and how they were offered all-in packages at unbeatable prices, from as little as 80 cents a ballot.

Everything is up for sale in the European free-market for votes. On 20 May, Giacomo Mancini was canvassing in Puglia hoping to convince punters in the province of Bari to vote for him when he received a call on his mobile phone. He has had the same number for eight years; thousands of people must know it. "The man on the end of the line said he was a political activist, and asked if we could meet. We arranged a rendezvous in Andria. I am someone who has always lived among the people, and I have always flown the flag for transparency."

At the meeting, a surprise was in store. Mancini found himself speaking to three men who explained that they controlled ten polling divisions and could provide him with a package of 2,000 guaranteed votes. "To get those crosses next to my name, I just had to pay 3,000 euros." At that price, it was a bargain: €1.50 a vote. "My team and I had a few laughs talking about how we could buy our way into office, but not before I had seen off the three stooges. I just told them, I don't buy votes, I win them." And how did the trio react? "There was no reaction; they just walked off. They were probably going to make the same pitch to another candidate."

by Fran on Tue Jun 2nd, 2009 at 01:47:07 PM EST
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