Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Scrapnotes on the Italian Campaign

by de Gondi Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 05:29:33 AM EST

So it's over. Officially. One of the ugliest general election campaigns since 1948. Actually there were two campaigns. One was conducted on television, another in the town squares of Italy.

The TV campaign was characterized by the bulimic invasion of the right wing's petty duce. To paraphrase Indro Montanelli, bereaved dean of conservative journalism, b***onism is like the stools that float back up from the sewer. No matter how often you flush or change channels, it's still there. A ruthless sissy, bent on pandering snake oil, ever ready to whine and screw you, chiagnere e fottere.

The strategy of the center left coalition recalled their original 1996 campaign.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

Prodi travelled by bus throughout Italy to meet the people in town squares or local auditoriums to illustrate his program. He called for a united Italy based on solidarity, unity and seriousness. His speeches rarely mentioned the right. As a whole his primary message was to propose feasible projects and solutions and stress a positive approach to the many problems that assail Italy. Throughout the campaign the center left chose to brush off the divisive and hateful rhetoric that characterized the speeches of the center right leader. Usually rebuttals were immediately issued through press office communiqués or through spokespersons without involving Prodi or other major center left candidates beyond occasional quips. Prodi's attitude could be summed by his ironic reply to the rightwing candidate's accusation during the last televised debate. The rightwing candidate accused him of being a "useful idiot." Prodi laughed that this sort of remark didn't really touch him because he had a very primitive nervous system. He immediately changed tone and proceeded to answer the reporter's question, something that his opponent rarely did.


Piazza del Popolo was nearly full this late afternoon for the closing of the campaign. I walked through Rome and stopped briefly to see the fascist Mussolini campaign closure at the Pantheon (Better fascist than fag!). There were far more police than sympathizers but that's the lot of those privileged few who park themselves in TV salons and have built their careers on a message of contempt and racism.

I was surprised by the lack of police presence in Piazza del Popolo but perhaps the size of the plaza with so many people gave that impression.


One of the worst aspects of the electoral law is that a voter can only vote for a party. There are no preferences for candidates, indeed no candidates on the ballot. At least in the so-called first republic a voter could choose or write the name of a physical, living human being. The bottom line is that almost all of the senators and deputies have already been elected to parliament by their parties. The people have no choice, for example, to express what they think about Marcello Dell'Utri, the inventor of  the commercial political enterprise, Forza Italia, and condemned to 11 years in prison for association with the mafia. Or all the other freedom-loving felons that roost in the rightwing coalition.

This simply means that the party candidates had no compelling reason to campaign. Besides the law was so construed that "candidates" need not be grounded in their territory. They really don't represent the territory, and are consequently irresponsible. They belong to the party. And the living body, the personification of the party is a petty, ruthless, irresponsible mobster who barges into every living room with his, well, sewage.


Perhaps that was a strategic error. The center left knew they would get treated unfairly by the TV media. Prodi rarely appeared in TV and pointedly declared nearly a month ago that he would not appear on any Mediaset program.

In effect, in the real world the center left coalition had free rein. They filled the plazas and street corners far from the prurient eye of the camera. They had a program to present. No catchy slogans and extravagant promises.

One thing that I liked about the big campaign meets of the left was laughter. Irony and laughter are the salt of intelligence, and let's face it, the left likes to laugh. There's always a comedian between speeches ready to take the piss out of everybody.

One of the first dictates of the actual council president when he came to power in 2001 was to ban several reporters and comedians from TV and radio. For five years, people have had to support regime comedians while real talent was in theater or the plaza- call it the old-fashioned agora. Thanks to technology, real comedy is in the blogosphere or on DVDs.


Modern election communication techniques? I was in Largo Argentina a few days ago and suddenly it was "invaded" by nearly a hundred people chanting, laughing, jumping around to the tune that they were all "dickheads", "coglioni." I didn't understand what was going on, and I'm afraid most people didn't either. I quickly found out that the rightwing candidate had said that whoever voted for the left was a dickhead.

What had happened is that the blogosphere had disseminated the story immediately with a tam-tam of emails and smses calling for everyone to meet in the piazzas and exalt their dickheadedness.
Further the blogs debunked the rightwing spin that the their leader had been ironic and jocular when he had said it. The footage was- and is- still on the web and depicts another version of the fact.


In May 68 there was writing on the walls that power would be buried by laughter.


A friend from Bordeaux called a couple of evenings ago. He had just seen a dossier on Arte about the Italian rightwing leader's methods of doing business before he got into politics. I'll be looking forward to buying the DVD. It's not the sort of film that you can see easily in Italy when distribution is tightly controlled.

So we had a good chat about it, and like all long-standing friendships many of the understandings we share need not be expressed. We had both lived in Sicily for well over a decade, my second homeland I would say in our patois of Italian, French and Sicilian. Yes, Sicily is an extraordinary island.

On the outcome?

The betting markets seem to be showing a Prodi win, and with a good degree of confidence.

Prodi win is 7/20 at Expekt and .23/1 at Betfair.

Conversely, a Berlusconi win is at 11/4 at Paddypower and 4/1 at Betfair.

In political betting, Berlusconi's odds are quite long.

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 01:42:33 AM EST
Prodi. The real bet is the spread. The actual electoral law was written to favor the loser and make Italy ungovernable in the next legislature.

So it's not a question of majority plus one but 54% plus one to be able to govern.

The numbers say it will be impossible for the rightwing coalition to take the Senate without voter fraud. The electoral law and subsequent decrees have set the groundwork for fraud. In the best of cases it's only a matter of crony tendering and ransacking the coffers to the tune of 34 million euro.

OCSE issued a statement yesterday pointing out the lopsided presence of the rightwing on TV without a contradictory.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 02:56:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is OSCE observing the elections, BTW?

(In Hungary, this time they won't; both major parties requested them to do a few weeks ago, but OSCE told it's too late.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 05:17:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Funds were allocated for observers either in the electoral law or a subsequent decree. I don't have my material at hand.

OCSE will be present in four different cities.

The rightwing leader made a speech yesterday calling for ONU observers because the left would certainly resort to massive voter fraud.

Since the observers had already been sent according to a provision of the law, this revolting claim on his part is yet another brick in his campaign of fear and hate.

His law and his decree of January 2006 give ample room for voter fraud on his part, not the left.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 06:27:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Coglioni of the world...unite.. in Italy too.

Great diary de Gondi...crossing fingers for the well-being of Italy...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 06:59:12 AM EST
Maybe I should change my handle to "dickhead" or "coglioni."

Anyway, it's up for grabs and has a noble story behind it. Dickheads of the world unite!

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 12:19:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This election is important to all of us Europeans.

I cross my fingers...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 07:52:56 AM EST
Me too.

First Zapatero, then Prodi, next Ségolène? And with Blair and Merkel/Schroeder, the EU big guns, minus Poland, would be on the verge of tilting slightly to the left (only slightly, due to the pull to the right of Blair/Merkel ... but it'll still be far better then we're it's at right now).

by Alex in Toulouse on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 07:55:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds good to me and after Ségolène we can work on the others. So I am holding my thumbs too.
by Fran on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 08:33:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is well known to have said:

Beati i coglioni, loro è il regno dei cieli

(Blessed are the dickheads, for they will inherit the kingdom of heaven)

Fingers, arms, and legs crossed. As Melanchthon says, this is really important for Europe.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 09:35:16 AM EST
I love singing the Italian national anthem when Italy plays in the Rugby Six Nations tournament. Then there is also Bella Ciao, Bandiera Rossa ...

Avanti o popolo, alla riscosaaaa, bandiera rossaaaaa, bandiera rossaaaaaa.

by Alex in Toulouse on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 09:56:59 AM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]