Always in the spotlight, and even more so when there’s an election in the offing, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pulled out all the stops in the run-up to the forthcoming regional elections in Italy.
Ilvo Diamanti, a political analyst and professor of political sciences at the University of Urbino said, “Prime Minister Berlusconis’ biggest preoccupation is firstly, hesitant and disappointed voters, and secondly the Lega Nord political party, which is a good ally but which could poll more votes in northern Italy than the Prime Minister’s PDL party. So the country could be split into two political regions. The Prime Minister is also preoccupied by magistrates and television presenters.”
The Italian government has ordered Italian television channel RAI 3 not to report on the elections on the pretext of not wanting either side to gain an unfair advantage. In response, AnnoZero presenter, Michele Santoro, organised a programme in support of freedom of expression, shown on huge public screens, 40 local channels and numerous internet sites. “Raiperunanotte” was watched by 13% of the audience.
Ilvo Diamanti commented, “This is a country where the political parties are not very visible in society, but are very visible in the media. That’s why having control of the media is key. Is it a problem for freedom? Yes, but it’s also a problem for politics, for the role of politics and the political parties.”
Political debate in Italy is increasingly about rhetoric, about sloganeering, and political language contains plenty of insults, and aggression.
Said Ilvo Diamanti: “This spiral is almost violent – usually, although not always it is verbally violent – and it throws the spotlight on the parties. Political differences between the parties aren’t always easy to spot. So politics becomes marketing, because marketing is a way of making similar products into competitors… so we try hard to sell politics in the most direct, most explicit way possible.”