Well, the European elections have come and gone, with the rigid right seemingly trouncing the left and socialist parties from Brussels to Brindisi. It’s not enough to know what, or for whom, we were actually voting for, but how those elections play in Parliament. What’s actually more confusing are the myriad parties from each place who garner representation there. I am still convinced that if my Mr. Carlino won out, he’d be spending his time selling houses to his fellow parliamentarians.
Italy is slowly eking its way into a two-party system. Except that in the Italian case, it's more like a multi-colored, multi-logo, 12 party one. Sometimes, they join together only to fight it out amongst themselves later (like Bossi’s Lega Party in Berlusconi's coalition); sometimes, they simply go it alone (like DiPietro’s one). In America, party heads don’t seem to carry all that much clout (even Howard Dean, a physician and ex-head of the Democratic Party, after wholly revamping the party didn’t garner a place on Obama’s cabinet—even in the Dept of Health). But here, they become part and parcel with their party. Reaching demagoguery on the level of our beloved Prime Minister is the only natural conclusion.
I recall the office of a former Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal here. Splayed across an entire wall of her office was a sort of Family Tree of photos and political philosophies of every big wig across every party. Not unlike the situation room of Al Qaeda trackers, pieces would be moved here, there and everywhere to mark each cell's new party alliances, their rise, theire fall and their manoeuvrings.
Now that we’re down to just a handful of parties (Fini’s Alleanza Nazionale having recently folded into Berlusconi’s bag), it still isn’t that easy to tell them apart. In a country that has a marked disdain for marketing practices, this is because the parties often change their names in mid-stride.
Berlusconi founded his Forza Italia party just about 10 years ago. At around the same time, the communist party failed, but you can now find them lurking in the Refounded or the Reformed Communist Party (I like calling them the Reconstituted...) Recently, I saw posters brandishing the good old-fashioned Communist sickle -- now how's that for marketing prowess?
My Radical Party, in an attempt of total rebranding, is now called, unbelievably, The Rose in the Fist. To me, it’s an awful lot like In the Name of the Rose, with all those politics and murders coming into play just like in the novel.
The left-wing parties who were left, joined forces under Veltroni to make the Democratic Party (Pd). No sooner did they change the colors of their new logo than the astute (and grand Marketeer par excellence) Berlusconi changed his party to the Pdl. That ‘l’ is so thin, I can barely keep the two sides apart.
And Americans thought they had problems with hanging chads during their elections.
Perhaps they should simply stick with the huge faces instead of party logos. That way, we can just vote for the guy we recognize. Umberto Eco would get my vote.