Election Diary - Vol. 1

Wed, 03/01/2006 - 06:14

Elections in Italy are a tricky affair and this year's promise to be one of the most intense contests in some time. Stefano Rossini will try to guide us through the maze of Italian politics with a weekly diary on the election campaign.

Par condicio is a latin expression that means equal condition. It is also the term used to describe a law in Italy that states the exact amount of time time every politician can have on public national broadcast.

In accordance with this law, all political parties involved in an election have the same share of air time. But, above all, par condicio is a law that, according with the best Italian traditions, everybody tries to evade!

First of all, the actual Presidente del Consiglio Silvio Berlusconi. A couple of weeks ago, he clearly stepped over the mark with a very long long speech on his own channel Rete4, during a show called “Liberi Tutti”.

In that occasion he spoke very highly of is own life, his own good work and his premiership to a public made chiefly of people registered to his party Forza Italia. Berlusconi was fined heavily, about 150.000 euro. But, in the end, the game is worth the candle, as the Italians say. If you turn on the television on Rete4 in the early morning, you will often you can see a Berlusconi meeting. To compensate Rete4 will repeat Prodi's speeches very late at night! Berlusconi, a seasoned media man is clearly setting the agenda in this campaign.

On the other side, Romano Prodi, the chief of the centre-left coalition, seems to spend all his time replying to Berlusconi attacks on left-politicians, authorities, judges and journalists, and holding at bay Rifondazione Comunista, the most left-wing of the left-wing parties. The centre left's biggest mistake in its propaganda is the attempt to reply word by word and law by law to the opposition. After the family allowances of 1.000 euro promised by Berlusconi and his governor to every family that has had a baby in the last year, now Prodi is promising 2.500 euro for the same thing.

It’s like an auction sale. People like me that had had a baby feels like an ebay buyer! This might just be the time that Italy's birth rate will finally go up again!