Tag Archives: mayor

Rome Mayoral Elections 2016

11 May


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.


[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:


Exhibit 2:


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?


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..” 


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.


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?”


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:


Wait, WTF?

Exhibit 2:


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


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.


The Right Man is a Woman

22 Oct


Meanwhile, in “the land that feminism forgot,” as The Economist once said about Italy years ago…

Seriously, folks? It says “The Right Man for Rome.”

Ok, so I’m driving today, and I read it and see a glimpse of long blonde hair as I’m driving, and I ask myself, “Did I read that wrong?” because I read “man” and I thought I saw a woman. Was it Vladimir Luxuria (transsexual politician)? No, couldn’t be, I think. He/she has brown hair.

Pass the sign again. Nope, this time I’m sure that’s a woman and … her name is Patrizia Prestipino. Full disclosure: I’ve met La Prestipino. Friend of an ex-friend. Lovely woman. Hard worker. I have nothing against her neither as a woman nor as a politician.

However, I do have a question mark when it comes to the tagline on her poster. Only because I think it really highlights the sexism inherent in a culture where, in order to gain credibility in your public advertising, you have to stand on the merit of presenting yourself as the right “man” for the job. The job being mayor of Rome. It’s a long shot.

Ok, so I’m not the target audience here. I’m not Italian, I’m not even a naturalized Italian citizen, either, because I was and still am too lazy to fill out the paperwork. So really, I suppose my opinion doesn’t much matter.

But, as an observer of local culture and customs, I do have to say that this is a pretty sad example of the ongoing state of things.

Her website states that the campaign is “purposely provocative” and further says:

“Questa campagna è volutamente provocatoria nasce da una consapevolezza: in un momento di grande smarrimento della politica pensiamo che l’uomo giusto per Roma debba essere, prima di tutto, coraggioso, leale e onesto. Quindi, l’uomo giusto per Roma è una donna”.

“…the campaign was born from the knowledge that, in a period in which politics have been misguided, we think that the right man for Rome should be, above all, courageous, loyal, and honest. Therefore, the right man for Rome is a woman.”

Here’s Pier Ferdinano Casini saying that “Rome is ready for a woman mayor,” although not directly connected to this campaign. He says the reason why more women aren’t involved in politics is because there isn’t an adequate social “net” of services to help women who are responsible for managing families and children.

Needless to say, La Prestipino is neither married nor a mother. Not that I care. No one else seems to care much either, given the whopping 117 views on that video. But frankly, if he’s vying for a woman candidate for mayor to prove that Rome is ready for a female mayor who is ALSO managing a family/children at home, that’s not happening here. First woman mayor of Milan was in 2006, Letizia Moratti who was the Minister of Education under Berlusconi from 2001 to 2006. Prestipino is currently a regional assessor for youth, tourism, and sport. I know next to nothing about local politics so I have no idea what her chances are. God bless her for trying, though. She seems to truly care about the state of things and have an honest passion for politics.

I, for one, would love to see more women in local politics who aren’t as loud, crass, and embarrassing as La Polverini. Bleh. But still, it’s a losing battle. La Polverini acted like a beer-belching fat man in a wife beater to get her job done, and ended up resigning in a corruption scandal. Here we have a delightfully feminine and fresh-faced candidate who, however, has to resort to referring to herself as a “man” to make waves and headlines. Sigh. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Oh, and as a totally trival aside: why on God’s Earth do politicians ALWAYS have a jacket hanging over their shoulder? Is this like the universally designated “politican pose”?

Oh well. At least she’s not nekkid like the rest of them.