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Old 04-02-2006, 08:14 PM   #1
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Elections in Italy

Italian politicians preach to the converted
Sunday, April 2, 2006


This means the center-right and center-left are focusing efforts on preventing sluggish sympathizers from abstaining, warning of a hellish future if their adversaries should win

CRISPIAN BALMER

ROME - Reuters


Fear and loathing stalk Italy's election campaign, as politicians try to coax disillusioned supporters into turning out to vote by painting dark visions of what will happen if they don't.

Pollsters expect no major swing of allegiance from one bloc to the other in the days left before the April 9-10 vote, with Italians staying loyal to their political roots.

This means the center-right and center-left are focusing efforts on preventing sluggish sympathizers from abstaining, warning of a hellish future if their adversaries should win.

"Very few Italian voters are prepared to switch political affiliation throughout their whole lifetime," said Andrea Vannucci, a political statistics analyst.

"Given this, it is clear the two blocs are trying to persuade their potential electorate to vote, rather than trying to poach voters from the other side."

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has trailed in the opinion polls since early 2004. Before a poll blackout came into force last weekend, he was between 3.5 and 5.0 percentage points behind his center-left challenger, Romano Prodi.

The opposition has managed to maintain a steady lead for the past month. Some 23 percent of the electorate remained undecided when opinion polls closed last week, meaning the result could still swing right.

But most of the "undecided" are already locked into one or other bloc. The uncertainties lie only in whether they will actually vote and which party of the two blocs they plump for.

"You can't rule out a center-right victory, but if they did win it would be with a very, very small majority," said Carla Natali, a director of pollsters TNS Abacus.



Alarm bells:Given that he has to play catch-up, it is unsurprising that Berlusconi has led the way in alarmist campaigning.

He intones daily that the center left will hike taxes, warns that Communists have a history of eating babies, says homeowners face economic ruin under Prodi and bows to anti-immigrant fears by saying "we don't want a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural" Italy.

"Are we selling fear now? Yes, because the left makes people scared," an unrepentant Berlusconi told reporters this week.

Berlusconi is convinced a high turnout in April will benefit his coalition, with his own pollsters suggesting that if 82 percent of the electorate votes, the center right will win. In 2001, turnout was 81 percent.

Independent experts are sceptical, seeing no correlation between high turnout and center right victories. They point out the "undecided" are not all closet Berlusconi fans.

"In fact, the majority of the undecided indicated they were leaning more to the center left," said TNS Abacus's Natali.

A TNS analysis of the waverers showed center right sympathizers were hesitating because they were disappointed Berlusconi had not done more to boost the stagnant economy.

The undecided in the center left camp complained that Prodi's programme was unclear and feared his broad coalition, which stretches from Roman Catholic centrists to hardcore Communists, would not hold together once in power.

Remarkably, the election campaign has thrown up no memorable slogans and virtually no headline-grabbing promises.

The center right manifesto contains just 10 brief points, eight of which start: "We will continue to..." The center-left manifesto is 281 pages long, but short on detail.



Negatives count:There has been little debate on many of the core issues facing Italy -- such as how to reduce its debt mountain.

"Sadly in Italy you don't vote for something, you vote against someone," said Aldo Martelli, a Bologna doctor.

"The thing that unites the left is a hatred of Berlusconi. The thing that unites the right is a hatred of communism."

Given the dire state of Italian finances it is perhaps unsurprising that neither bloc has focused on engaging the electorate in how it plans to clear things up.

Plans by Prodi to raise taxes on interest income from state bonds has been leapt on by Berlusconi as a sign of things to come if the center left should win, triggering an avalanche of name-calling on both sides.

The poisoned atmosphere means many voters have switched off, with a poll in Il Sole 24 Ore daily this week saying 17.8 percent of Italians did not even know the election date.

"This campaign has been awful with people just calling each other 'cretin' all the time," said Arnaldo Zotti, a 68-year-old pensioner from Milan.

"I still don't know who I'll vote for. Perhaps I'll just write some expletive on the ballot and leave it at that."
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:08 PM   #2
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I can't stand Berlusconi, the sooner the guy's gone, the better.
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:18 PM   #3
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I just hope may the best candidate win, and I also hope that the people vote!
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:07 PM   #4
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At least 82% of the voters know when the election will be held.
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Old 04-03-2006, 04:26 AM   #5
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sure, we know when we vote.

we don't know who to vote for coz we have not the BEST politician.

the campaign is still going on, but neither left or right seem to have a program.
it's just talk and talk about nothing

And it makes me so sick to think about my country left in the hands of people that do not think of how to make things work.
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Old 04-03-2006, 04:35 AM   #6
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Plus, yesterday my country was shocked by a terrible news.

The body of a 17 months old kid that was kidnapped last month was found yesterday evening.


There's something extremely wrong in a society where an innocent kid can be kidnapped and killed for no reason but money.

And I wish I had some more interesting, and intelligent things to say but the only thing that comes to my mind and to my finger is that I'm disgusted.

Disgusted by the violations.

Disgusted by the fact that the killers went in front of the cameras and told everyone they were innocent and asked to release the kid.

Disgusted by the politician that think that the way to solve this is reintrodusting death penalty -- saying "if I were not a catholic, I will ask for death penalty to the people who committed this".

Disgusted and shocked, because I cannot understand where this country is going.
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Old 04-03-2006, 08:37 AM   #7
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Berlusconi is as good for a poor worker in Italy as Bush is for the homeless in the United States.

And what I never understood about the Italians is the way they critisize Berlusconi all the years in office, and then all of a sudden two weeks before of the election they don´t kniow who to vote for. If that criticism is serious, and not quaquaraqua, how can there be any reasonable doubt who NOT to vote?
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:35 AM   #8
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I have family in Italy, my brother's first wife was Italian, they lived in Rome, and had a daughter who lives in Rome and is now old enough to vote. She can't stand Berluscone. She's been to several demonstrations protesting his policies. I haven't talked to her lately but I'm sure she's planning to vote for the center-left. That's horrible about the murder of that child.
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Old 04-04-2006, 02:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by whenhiphopdrovethebigcars
Berlusconi is as good for a poor worker in Italy as Bush is for the homeless in the United States.

And what I never understood about the Italians is the way they critisize Berlusconi all the years in office, and then all of a sudden two weeks before of the election they don´t kniow who to vote for. If that criticism is serious, and not quaquaraqua, how can there be any reasonable doubt who NOT to vote?

What you say is correct.
Problem is that the other politicians are not what you will give your trust immediately.

I know who to vote for, but I have the impression the new government won't be so much better of the old one. You see?
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Old 04-04-2006, 05:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by lady luck



What you say is correct.
Problem is that the other politicians are not what you will give your trust immediately.

I know who to vote for, but I have the impression the new government won't be so much better of the old one. You see?
I see. I tend to disagree through, I think Prodi is a better choice than Berlusconi. I´m critical of the EU too (and Prodi is an EU man), but I think in the end Prodi will allow more social policies. Berlusconi can´t be interested at all, he´s a die-hard capitalist only interested in his TV stations, his money and his connections to Bush et al.

If many Italians are sick of the right and the left like you say, why don´t they create new ones? You have many brilliant people there. Benigni would make a good ministerio della cultura. Italy has a great judicial system too - they even have the power to regulate politicians at times.

btw what about Bossi and the Lega? Always thought this was a phenomenon of some racist northern Italians.
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Old 04-04-2006, 08:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
If many Italians are sick of the right and the left like you say, why don´t they create new ones? You have many brilliant people there. Benigni would make a good ministerio della cultura. Italy has a great judicial system too - they even have the power to regulate politicians at times.
Simple answer: the problem is that we're really good in criticizing without create new things.

Bossi and the lega is another thing I'll never understand of this country... Their program is basically racist -- towards the immigrants and towards the Italians that were born in the south and are now living in the north. I'm REALLY scared by the fact that this party is followed so much. I don't even understand how's possible to keep alive a party that say that the "goal" should be to get independence for the northern area.. Our constitution says Italy is one and in not possible to make separation... Not to mention the "treatments" reserved to the foreigners immigrants...
If this is not enough, when of the people of this party was a member of the Goverment (Ministry of Reforms). Perhaps you know his name -- Calderoli -- thanks to his "show" during the mess of the Denish cartoon.
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Old 04-04-2006, 11:56 AM   #12
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This reminds me of our 2004 elections. It was all about criticising someone and not really believing in either side.
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Old 04-05-2006, 02:26 AM   #13
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And not to mention the fact that Mr. Berlusconi has referred to the people who will vote for Prodi as "bollocks" ...
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Old 04-09-2006, 10:15 AM   #14
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Today is the (first) day! Let's hope it's the beginning of the end for Belusconi!
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Old 04-09-2006, 12:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by DrTeeth
Today is the (first) day! Let's hope it's the beginning of the end for Belusconi!
Yeah! My in-laws would be delighted.
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