Italians are voting today and tomorrow after an election campaign that hasstirred political passion in the country. Most opinion polls had said the result will be defeat for the right, and a return to power for the left, but none have been published in two weeks.
The campaign has seen prime minister Silvio Berlusconi insulting the left’s electorate, and the opposition’s mild-mannered Romano Prodi compare Berlusconi’s flamboyance to the excesses of a drunk. The voting slip, with its host of party symbols for the various elections going on around Italy, is complicated, as is the process itself, and there are worries turnout could be low, despite the high stakes. The campaign left Berlusconi broken-voiced and, in his own words, exhausted. Romano Prodi presents Italy with a very different style of leader: scholarly, dry, and careful with what he promises, unlike his extravagant predecessor. It is unclear if he will be able to turnaround Italy’s ailing economy any better than Berlusconi, and 25 percent of the electorate goes to the polls undecided. “It’s better Italy is governed by a businessman than by politicians who’ve never worked”, said one man. That view from Rome was harder to find in Naples, where most people interviewed were against Berlusconi. “It’s disgusting politicians don’t see how degraded southern Italy is”, was one typical view. “We’ll go to the polls because we want to get rid once and for all of this government that in my opinion is ruining the country”, said a first-time young voter.