Tag Archives: elections

Rome Mayoral Elections 2016

11 May sondaggi-roma-1

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Lest you think only the United States is experiencing electoral fever, allow me to draw your attention to the Eternal City and our local elections set for June.

And yes, spoiler alert: Berlusconi figures here, too. (I agree that he should be wiling away his twilight hours making arts and crafts in a nursing home, but alas, this is Italy, and so…)

You know, folks, I’ve always managed to be blissfully ignorant about politics here in Italy. I come from the land of two political parties, with a few outliers. Italy, on the other hand, at last count had no fewer than 31, in this list from the aptly named “Simple Politics” website. But the venerable financial journal Il Sole 24 Ore named 62 of them here in a list of balance sheets.

So, you know what? Your guess is as good as mine, but, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret I discovered.

Here, come closer. I’ll whisper it in your ear:

only about four of those parties really matter.

I don’t claim to be anywhere near an authority on politics (many Italians will tell you that even they are confounded by their own system), but I will tell you that since the time when I was dragged kicking and screaming out of my political ignorance in my work for Italy’s largest news agency, ANSA, I’ve gotten a slight handle on the situation.

Italy breaks down into left and right, and on those two sides we have two main leaders. Stay with me here.

On the center-left we have Premier Matteo Renzi, who, in addition to being prime minister, is also the head of his own party (I know, the mind boggles).

This will be easy for Americans because that one is called simply the Democratic Party.

I know, right?! A.k.a. PD.

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[Permit me an aside, will you? Frankly, I don’t find Matteo Renzi to be an ugly man, but I dare you to find a photo in which he might be considered photogenic. The man never—and I mean never—looks normal. Don’t believe me? I Googled my theory: click here.]

Our PD candidate in Rome is Roberto Giachetti, whose advertising tagline is “Rome goes back to Rome,” which perhaps means it goes back to being Rome, or maybe means it goes back to the people of Rome. If you want my opinion though, and I know you do, someone needs to first off buy this man a damn razor for the love of God.

Honestly. Can I have a mini-rant here? I mean, decide. Either you have a beard, or you don’t, but what you’re doing here is neither one nor the other. If politics is about appearances, it would appear that Giachetti can’t get his shit together enough to even shave, which is concerning in a city where not even the garbage service works.

Exhibit 1:

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Exhibit 2:

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You get the idea.

Then we have the “anti-establishment” party, which demurs from associating itself as either left or right. They don’t even call themselves a party—they’re a movement. This is all fine and good when you go up against said establishment, but, pause for a moment and ask yourself: What happens when anti-establishment becomes the establishment?

The reason I ask is that the candidate for comedian-slash-movement leader Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star Movement (M5S) is actually leading the pack in the Rome mayoral election, and what’s more, she’s a woman. If elected, Virginia Raggi would be Rome’s first female mayor in history. [Can I get a woot woot in the house?]

I have nothing to say about Raggi. No snide comments, no quippy asides. If I could vote—and I can’t, because it takes years and years to get citizenship paperwork processed and I’m lazy—welp, I’d vote for her. She’s a 38-year-old lawyer and former city councillor who wants to make people pay to ride the bus and who wants to get our garbage picked up. She also opposes hosting the Olympics in Rome (because she feels aforementioned waste management is more important to the city’s residents). What more do you want?

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Oh, and by the way? Have you ever wondered why they are five stars, and what they represent? Of course you haven’t. But I have, and I’m here to share a little acronym provided courtesy of a former M5S municipal councillor, Vincenzo Agnusdei, who says you can easily remember the meaning of the five stars with the acronym TASCA, which means pocket in Italian. T=trasporto (transport); A=acqua (water); S=sviluppo (development); C=connettività (connectivity); A=ambiente (environment).

But he was a councillor back in 2011, and from my online stalking it now appears he lives in Berlin, Germany, so, add a grain or two of salt to that recipe.

Meanwhile, I promised you some Berlusconi. Oh, Berlusconi. Sigh. When are you just going to pack it in and ride off into the sunset?

But, not yet.

Berlusconi is no longer the leader of the center-right. That dubious honor now falls on the shoulders of a 43-year-old Milanese named Matteo Salvini, who not only leads the “we invented our own fantasyland in northern Italy called Padania and we want to secede from the rest of Italy” Northern League, but also serves in the European Parliament. And who The Huffington Post reports has a new website called The Populist with a Sex & Trash category that titled one of its posts “Young Pakistani women: Allah doesn’t let us fu..” 

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And if you read Italian, read that first comment because it’s a gem. Domenico Di Luzio, TVB.

Salvini backs our far-right Rome mayoral candidate, who also happens to be a woman, with an even further-right party than perhaps even Lega Nord, called Brothers of Italy. (Which begs the question: How can a woman lead a party called Brothers of Italy? Amiright?)

If we want to stay on the Sex & Trash track, as Salvini always does, then let’s just translate his candidate’s name into English and call her Giorgia Melons. Ms. Melons got a lot of press when her former challenger Guido Bertolaso (we’ll get to him and Berlusconi in a moment, I promise) said in March that she shouldn’t run for mayor because she’s pregnant and “it’s obvious to everyone that a mom can’t dedicate herself to a terrible job (as mayor of Rome). Being mayor of Rome means being out and about and in the office for 14 hours a day.”

So there’s that.

But then, you see, Bertolaso was Berlusconi’s choice with “unconditional support” until, well, until he wasn’t anymore. Hmm.

Berlusca first launched former civil protection chief Bertolaso, who is on trial for manslaughter in connection with the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila–oopsies!–while wearing MIB-style dark glasses. Don’t ask. You can’t handle the truth.

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Find the dirty old man in this picture.

But then a bunch of stuff happened and some meetings happened and people were like OHMYGODYOUCAN’TSUPPORTSOMEONEONTRIALFORMANSLAUGHTER and he, Mr. MIB himself, switched his “unconditional support” over to Marchini. At which point Bertolaso poof! like magic disappeared from the race.

Who’s Marchini, you ask? Affectionately known as ARfio to the Romans (because in local dialect sometimes Ls morph into Rs, you know), he’s a non-party-affiliated civic-listing Rome-lover. He just puts hearts all over his campaign posters and says how much he loves Rome and how he’s non-party-affiliated so he is “FREE” to do whatever, which is somehow supposed to be very reassuring to the populace of Rome.

His campaign slogan is: “I love Rome, and you?”

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He’s run before. He’s sort of like the Energizer Bunny of Rome mayoral candidates. He just keeps on going, and going, and going.

It’s just good times with Marchini, because he’s our sort of flashy glamour candidate, and he’s been nicknamed “Il Bello” by locals (the good-looking one).

Exhibit 1:

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Wait, WTF?

Exhibit 2:

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He plays polo! With funky yellow eyeguard/sunglass things!

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He water skis! He kicks up waves! Maybe it’s not even him but the flowing mass of hair in the ocean breeze sure makes it look like!

And if by chance you read Italian, then please don’t hesitate to visit his Facebook page: Arfio Marchini.

Ok, ok, that’s a spoof page, and that’s where I found the jet-ski photo, and, it’s brilliant.

Roma Ti Amo.

Romans, Go Forth and Vote!

24 Feb

Oh my God. Look at this:

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So here’s me, Little Miss Know-It-All, taking a picture of this sign posted on a shuttered storefront about a week ago, breezily walking by and thinking to my super-know-it-all-little-self “I’m sure I can come up with some snotty comment to poke fun at the store owner who’d post a sign on his business that says “Closed for Flu.” That’s kind of silly, isn’t it? Yes, it is.”

Fast forward to last Thursday night, when the Universe decided to show me just what it means to have to close your business for the flu, as I thrashed about all night battling a high fever and basically feeling like I was on the edge of death, or at least Dante’s vestibule of hell. Yes, folks, I was officially “Chiuso per Influenza” and let me tell you, this year’s flu ain’t no joke. I am just now emerging from my bed after 2 full days.

Can I tell you another reason why I love these handwritten signs? Because they almost always, pretty much inevitably, end up having some smart ass remark scrawled on them, in response to the main message. No exception here. Underneath the “closed for the flu” message, someone who is probably even more know-it-all than I am walked by and wrote “Why didn’t you get vaccinated?”

But, enough about the Raging Flu Monster of 2013. Let’s get on with the voting, shall we?

I don’t really have much to say (that’s particularly useful), except that I wanted to show anyone who comes from my home country (or any other country with less than like 30 different political parties), that voting here looks a *wee* bit complicated.

To answer your question—no, I will not be voting. I still have to finish applying for my citizenship, so there. Not like I’d vote if I had the chance to. Are you kidding me?

I found a paper left on a bunch of windshields by my apartment. It’s a “fac-simile” (I just love how in Italy they write it like that. I don’t know why. FAC-SIMILE. So old-fashioned) of a ballot. Now, this particular one is for Berlusconi’s party so you see that’s the symbol that’s highlighted. But what I really wanted to point out was just how super-duper fun an Italian regional election ballot is! I mean, let’s compare, shall we?

U.S. presidential election ballot:

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Pretty straightforward, no? Black and white, two political parties, check the box, go drink a beer and celebrate. Not much to it.

Italian regional election ballot:

Schedaelettorale

Weeeeee! Kind of makes you want to do a jig, no? I mean, so colorful! All kinds of little round symbols and pictures. A little hand showing where you’re supposed to actually write in the name for the candidate (this I don’t really understand but it’s fun). You get to make X’s on the pictures, and write things, I mean honestly people, voting in an Italian election is, well, it’s like a microcosm of Italy compared to the U.S., is it not?

It’s like the difference between Mr. Arnold Grummer being inducted into the Paper Industry Hall of Fame at the Radisson hotel (97 views, and he makes the questionable decision of revealing during his acceptance speech that he’s recently been diagnosed with lung cancer – hello, killjoy!) vs. Roberto Benigni accepting the Oscar win (it’s all about fun).

God bless Italy. Happy voting. And happy Oscar weekend too!

Rome: Where Campaign Posters Go to Die

13 Feb

Oh God. Really. Don’t get me started. The city is positively OVERRUN with campaign posters. Between those and the coriandoli (confetti) from Carnevale, this city is one big paper wasteland right about now.

Just thought you might want to share my pain. You know you do.

Campaign season is all about formally renouncing any shred of responsibility for anything unwholesome or imperfect, and doing so on a grand public scale, while simultaneously reassuring the public that your solemn face, if voted for, will calmly restore order and ethical behavior to all the land. And this, in a twist of clever irony, is done mostly in a totally “abusivo” way.

Oh yes, folks, we’re into our manifesti abusivi around here. Literally guys who go around with buckets of poster glue and plaster up posters illegally on top of legitimate paid advertising. You know not of what I speak? Oh dear friends, just type in “manifesti abusivi” into Google images. Lookie, lookie! Collapsing under their own weight!

The sheer quantity of illegal campaign posters could easily provide a fairly warm blanket for a homeless person.

Anyhoo, let’s now delve into our collective failures:

Reproach #1: Monti made you poor. It’s all his fault.

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Sponsored by “The Right” a.k.a. Storace. Remember him? He has signs all over the place lately that say “Now Believe Us.” A not-so-thinly veiled reference to this debacle. The phoenix rising from the ashes, no?

Reassurance #1: Aurigemma, Everyday by your side

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Um, no thanks. Really. I’d rather do without.

Hey lookie here, Egregio Sig. Simcek! He’s almost all like “me cojoni” right? Right? Almost, I said. Geez. Don’t break my boxes. And if you do I’ll just be like, stigranca. Said with a totally American accent.

Brain Conundrum #1: Loving Italy Has a Cost, But It’s Worth It

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It’s all philosophical and what-not. But since you’re already poor from Monti, whatever the price is, you can’t afford it anyways.

Here’s my latest favorite though. You have to forgive me because I had to take a picture of it with my crappy ass cell phone camera (kiddos broke my crappy ass digital camera) as the bus was driving away, so just trust me when I say:

Bad Grammar as “Vote-for-Me-Strategy” #1: I AM US

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With a name like Patanè, you know it has to be good. (I have no idea what that means, actually. But if he’s allowed to say “Io Siamo Noi,” I can say whatever I want too.)

And, for the grand grand finale (say it “fih-NALL-leee” like the Americans do, it’s more fun that way), I give you the ultimate, inevitable, inescapable, ineluttabile solution to all, and when I say all I really mean ALL, of your woes:

Backup No-Fail Voting Choice #1, #1bis, #4 comma 6, art. 8A, ecc.: EVERYONE FOR BERLUSCONI

Ha, and you thought I was kidding. Oh, how wrong you are:

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Illegally posted, natch. How appropriate.

Elections in Rome 2013

7 Jan

You know that you’re in Rome when one of the leading campaign slogans in the upcoming elections reads thus:

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“Imagine regional government offices with competent people, not those with connections.”

Do you just love it?

I mean, ok, yes…it’s sad. But it’s sad in that sad-happy-Rome way.

The way that goes: yeah, we know that it’s all for show, and we know that everything is basically corrupt and we all know that people get their state jobs and appointments through rigged civil service exams and pay offs and other miscellaneous what-not, like, “Oh, you’re Giovanni’s 37-year-old nephew who’s never had a job and is still living at home with mom and dad, and they think it’s high time you get a job because they’ve spent the last 10 years of their lives looking for a place to “settle” you in a job?” Ask anyone about it… getting “sistemato” is the ultimate. Ask Fantozzi. Go on, ask. I’ll wait.

So, you know… “sad” in that happy/funny/youmustbejoking sort of way. (And for you astute viewers out there, why yes, yes, that big and scary semi-rotund window-filled building is in fact the Regione Lazio building. As in, the very headquarters of the regional government. You know, that one you’re supposed to be imagining. See how it all comes full circle? Bravi!)

And, best part? The whole “imagine” part. Because, folks. Let’s not kid ourselves here. What would Rome be without its share of ‘corrupt—wait, appeal—wait, corrupt—wait, no, innocent’ politicians and vulgar, but not in a vulgarly charming way, but just plain old-fashioned gross vulgar politicians? Immagina! Because you know that’s what’s coming around when you see a pig flapping its wings past your window. Or, as we say in Italian, when asses fly. Asses, as in donkeys. You know. Asini che volano. Never mind.

Oh, wait, wait! Second-best part? The part that made the marketing/advertising geniuses plaster this campaign on both sides of the street in front of and next to the below-documented imposing cement “Go Go Gadget Facist Architecture” building with the proud heading over the mammoth door which hereby proclaims:

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“Ministry of Economic Development.”

Economic!

Development!

Immagina!