Now that Guiliano Pisapia has won the election to become the new mayor of Milan, he’s suddenly a celebrity. He’s the “man who defeated Berlusconi” in his own hometown.
So how did this 62-year old left-wing lawyer succeed where even Nobel prize winner Dario Fo could not?
Guilliano Pisapia said: “We wanted to envisage not only the possibility of an alternative to Berlusconi, but also a new way of doing politics. And this was an absolutely winning choice. We replied to lies, insults, defamation, with a smile, with humour and irony, and this took them by surprise. As we say, ‘A laugh will bury you all’.
One example of the opposition side’s dirty tricks was when Letizia Moratti used the last 10 seconds of a television debate to accuse Pisapia of having stolen a car when he was a young man. The timing gave him no opportunity to refute the claims.
Moratti’s ratings plummeted and Twitter exploded with accusations jokingly accusing Pisapia of everything from inventing mosquitoes to provoking earthquakes.
Guilliano Pisapia said: “There were of course other crucial elements. A candidate who was not from the establishment, but chosen at grassroots level; a programme not decided by parties but drawn up by over 1,200 people.”
After Pisapia’s surprise win at the first round of voting he decided to make sure that Joe Public would be fully involved in the election campaign.
As soon as they heard Pisapia might attend, people organised events like this concert given by a local orchestra. The campaign used social networks and face to face electioneering.
Guilliano Pisapia said: “Both of them were important because obviously for young people the virtual world is crucial, but if I had not been physically present in the suburbs – in places where all enthusiasm had been lost, where there was no desire to participate in politics, where there was unbelievable disenchantment – I would certainly not have had the consensus I had. It’s important to use different languages for different people in order to get the same message across to everybody.”
Disenchantment in Italy is rife. And yet because Pisapia does not smell of the establishment, people see him as a man of the streets. This is especially true for young people.
Piero Scaramucci, the founder of Radio Popolare said: “I haven’t seen so many young people on the streets since 1968. Young people are totally fed up with traditional political leaders, but they have things to say. And one day they decided let’s say it, let’s do it. And suddenly, we did it!”
The hard work of making good on election promises lies ahead. But for the moment, winning the election is enough of a reason to celebrate.