Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A bloody nose for Berlusconi

Italy went to the polls in the second round of local elections today, and attention was focused on Milan. Faced with a strong challenge from the left on his home ground, Berlusconi's candidate sank into the gutter with an outright appeal to xenophobia and racism:

Wearing an elegant silk jacket, carrying a white Dolce & Gabbana handbag and sporting her customary silver eye shadow, the beleaguered mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, cut an incongruous figure as she scrunched across the gravel at an old Gypsy campsite in Milan last week.

The 1,500 Gypsies who once lived here have long gone, which is why Moratti had brought the TV crews with her. "When I first came here, I saw an undignified way of life. Now there are zero Gypsies," she said, before listing the other Gypsy settlements around Milan that she plans to shut down if re-elected this weekend.


"If Pisapia wins, Milan will became a Muslim town, a Gypsyville of Roma camps, a city besieged by foreigners," Berlusconi has warned in one of a series of increasingly irate video messages on his website. He told one TV interviewer that anyone voting for the centre-left had "left their brains at home". Meanwhile, young activists brought in from throughout Italy fanned out across Milan telling locals Pisapia would open "injection rooms" for drug addicts.

"If Pisapia wins, there will be a boom in rapes and prostitutes on the streets," said Massimo Corsaro, a Freedom People MP.

Its appalling stuff, and it makes our politicians look good by comparison. But the good news is that after all that, after deliberately inciting racial hatred, Berlusconi lost. Maybe there's some hope for Italy after all.