...but it will take a while to determine exactly what they said." Thus said Bill Clinton about the 2000 US elections when hanging and pregnant chads were determining who'd move their furniture into the White House. And in a way, the same thing has happened in Italy, where the cruise ship crooner, SilvioBerlusconi, and the professor, Romano Prodi are having a staring contest. Whoever dares to blink will lose the elections.
George Bush is apparently one of the few important leaders not have called Prodi to congratulate him. Most news reports put this down to Bush and Berlusconi love-in, leftist Prodi (and his merry band of communists) would be antithetical to any Bush doctrine. Bush is in tow with Big Business, while Berlusconi, as the 25th richest man in the world is Big Business. Bush went to Iraq, Berlusconi followed. I reckon the more realistic reason is pure pragmatism. Bush knows that it only needs a judge in a state governed by your brother to win an election, so he might be waiting for some of Italy's infamously corrupt judges to keep his friend in power.
Yesterday I spoke to a couple of Italian citizens in London; Italians abroad now vote in as many as 12 MPs, and six senators. My first question to them was: who did you vote for? I dispensed with the niceties of "how are you... I know it's terribly rude to ask one how they voted, but if you'd kindly indulge me..." Straight for the jugular. The first guy said he didn't vote because he liked neither of them. He said they were both "shitty". In hindsight, did he mean the adverb "shitty" or was it his Italian accent where he added "y" to the end of every word, in which case he meant the adjectival form? Hardly makes a difference, but clarity matters, ya dig? The second guy, Vincenzo (can one get a more typically Italian name than that?) said he voted for Berlusconi. So I grabbed him by the neck and headbutted him, before sticking his head in the toilet bowl and pushing the flush lever. Okay, I only did the grabbing by the neck bit, but in that restrained way when you want to strangle someone you love. Prodi, he reminded me, had presided over a faltering economy in his previous tenure as PM, and - his main beef - Prodi's union was filled with communists, practising and fallen. At which point I should have reminded him (I forgot) that Berlusconi's party is filled with fascists, practising and fallen, most famously, Il Duce's granddaughter, Alessandra Mussolini (pictured above, in her Playboy days).
It seems that for a lot of elections and politics these days, it is a choice between the lesser of two evils. Since politics is "showbiz for ugly people", why not just make it a proper beauty contest. That way people can ignore political parties and policies, and vote for who they really like. Look at the pecks on that Tony Blair, phwoarh!