Saturday, 12 April 2008

Vote for Zappatero

It is election time in Italy. If I only could, I would vote for Zappatero. The way his government has gone towards reforms is stuff for day-dreams in other countries where frustrated voters are sick of their governments that can't decide on anything. Like the law on people living together rather than getting married, including the same-sex couples that Zappatero could get through. In Italy they started with Dicos, then tried Pacos and in the end, gave up the idea because the centre parties that have strong catholic public image, felt that it would discriminate against regular heterosexual families.

The way last Prodi government had been functioning was so frustrating with its thin majority. Every member of the coalition with a handful of parliament seats threatened to quit if they didn't like something. Mastella with his 3-4 parliament seats and Dini with two seats, did it so often. Mastella finally brought the government down and it came out that he had received assurances from the opposition leader Berlusconi about getting a minister seat in the new government. It was disgusting and the public disapporval against Mastella is so strong that he has finally decided to "retire".

So you can understand my fondness for Zappatero. The only problem is that he is too handsome. I am a little distrustful of the handsome public leaders. Just think of what Blair did, turning into wagging tail of Bush. Or what Bill Levinsky Clinton did. Thus if Zappatero first was good, Zappatero bis may be too much. And then there is Nicholas Sarkozy, a post-modernist nightmare of a prime minister.

Anyway back to the Italian elections. Suddenly people seem distrustful of small parties and small leaders, each of whom gets a few seats and then tries to influence the government. At least I hope so, and that everyone would vote for a main party that can govern the country.

Where I live is a red area of Bologna. Actually the whole city of Bologna has the reputation of being red, in the sense that it has been a stronghold of left parties, for a long time with communitists and later on with centre-left coalitions. Now it is the new left, democratic party of Veltroni, that is the flavour of the season. Last year in October they held the primaries to choose their boss and this was a first in Italy, since usually parties choose their own leaders and don't ask people to vote and elect their leaders. More than 3 million persons voted for Veltroni. Since it is a red area, strong hold of left parties, all election posters of northern league, christian democrats and right parties are missing from the billboards. Probably enthusiastic supporters go out in the night to take down all such posters.

Still some of the posters are really funny. Like this one from northern league, that is the nationalist party of the north of Italy, that does not want emigrants. There poster has a red Indian on it.

"They didn't have rules to control emigration and now they are forced to live in reserves, think about it" it says. But they were all European emigrants, I wanted to tell the northern league leader, Africans, Asian emigrants, they didn't kill civlizations and put people in reserve areas! But I don't think that he wants to listen. The poster is both funny and communicating and in the end, that is what matters.

Sex is another theme of elections that continues to surprise me. Not the puritanical Clinton-Levinsky kind of sex, it is more open and ribald. Like the northern league famous for its "Lega c'è l'ha duro", meaning, "League has it hard" and is just going screw you.

Ms. Santanché, prime ministerial candidate of extreme right, snubbed by Berlusconi, reacted by saying "He wants me to give it to him but I am not, he can dream and die for it." Mr. Berlusconi himself, famous for putting his foot in his mouth every so often, has been trying to keep a check on himself this time. Last time he had announced that for the elections, for one month he was going to give up sex, implying that nearing seventy, he was still having it regularly and thus not too old to be a prime minister.

But it is the pornostars who catch attention every time during elections. Ilona Staller & Moana Pozzi, both pornostars were parliament members for the radical parties almost a decade ago. Both had scandalised for refusing to give up their wayward ways even after entering the parliament by continuing their work in hardcore porn, saying that it was their job and they had every rtight to go on with it. At least Moana was intelligent and able to speak articulately! Now we have Ms. Milly D'Abbraccio, another porn star standing for the socialist party. Her poster in Rome created some more scandal.

"Basta con queste facce da c...", the poster uses a common Italian proverb, "facce da culo" that means "ass-faces" and so in a poster showing her well rounded ass, Ms. D'Abbraccio says, "enough of ass faced" parliamentarians, vote for a more beautiful face. Embarrassed, the socialist leaders vain about their 114 year old history were stuttering their explanations about the poster.

Veltroni and Prodi were in Bologna the other day. Veltroni has choosen the slogan of Barack Obama, "Si può fare", it can be done. Initially all surveys showed the predictions that Berlusconi was ahead by ten points. Now Veltroni is going around saying that he is the new thing in Italian politics, he is running alone, no arrangements with any party and he has been elected by the people and he is young, only 54. Berlusconi is dismissive.

Personally I liked the speech of Anna Finocchiaro, wearing the red cross-checked coat in this picture, along with Prodi and Veltroni. She is simple and effective and to have a woman prime minister won't be bad. But she is not in the race for the prime minister. Bersani, the other minister of Prodi government who was there for the meeting is admired for the series of liberalisation measures he was able to push through in spite of the protests by the different unions.

And this time PD, democratic party is proposing industrials and professionals as candidates, not just union leaders and mechanics. So what will happen in the elections? We are all waiting to discover.

PS: Maybe Mayawati can ask for a ban on Zappatero? It means "shoe-maker" or a mochi.

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