Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mrs. Berlusconi is not happy.

A friend in L.A. sent me this New York Times article.

This is really something. Could you imagine if Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush or Michelle Obama wrote an article to "The Washington Post or "The New York Times" about how annoyed they were with their husbands...the President of the United States?

If I wrote a script about this soap opera no would believe it.

I'm happy the emergency services for the earthquake were well organized. I'm not sure if Silvo B. can take all the credit for that. God knows if they were a mess he would have found a way to blame the PD (the opposition party).

I'm curious to know who votes for him. Only one friend of mine actually voted for him (she has a personal dislike for Veltroni) and as a result when we are with mutual friends we try to avoid discussing politics less a screaming match breaks out. During the election last year I was having lunch with her and another friend of ours. It got so heated I was worried the owner of the restaurant would ask us to leave.

I do realize it's hard to run against someone who control 95% of the TV market. However, the PD needs to get it together. It's not enough to say vote against this man/party because they don't have a plan for our country. You have to give people a reason to vote FOR you, not just against the other guy.

During the Ann Richards re-election campaign everyone just knew we were going to beat Bush. I mean come on! However, we got SPANKED. Karl Rove and co. ran a very disciplined campaign, while we were all over the place. We had no message other than GWB (aka Shrub for little Bush) shouldn't be Governor. We neglected to say why voters should re-elect Ann. Thanks to that loss, GWB was able to run for President.

Silvio B. does put his foot in his mouth a lot. But like the article says, he's like Teflon. I'm not a fan but he has charisma. Like in the States, most of the electorate gets their news from TV not newspapers. Unfortunately sound bites are very important. No one has time, other than political junkies, to hear/pay attention to long policy speeches. Given the ADD in our Twitter culture this is only going to get worse.

The PD needs to find a message that resonates, have concrete plans to fix the issues in the country, have a vision for the future as the global economy continues to impact Italy in good and bad ways and most importantly find a spokesperson who can connect with voters.

Voters need an viable alternative. Like we say in American politics, "I'd rather vote for the devil I know than the one I don't."


Petulia said...

Brava! Ben detto, we need to get our act together and create a valid alternative to this government. I only wish more people could speak as clearly as you do.

Kataroma said...

Unfortunately it isn't just that the PD can't get it together, Berla really resonates with something in Italian culture. They LIKE his gaffes, his young, attractive women, his angry wife and sainted mother, his furbismo and corruption. In fact, Veronica Lario's recent letter with probably help him politically as the impish, cheating husband is a strong archetype which appeals to the average Giuseppe (who probably wishes he could have such beautiful women dripping off him at 70+). It's hard to explain - maybe you need to be here a while - but these are all positive characteristics here for most people. They want to get away with the things he's got away with and they want beautiful showgirls rather than "ugly serious, smart women" (Angela Merkel et al) as politicians on the TV. That's why they vote for him - not because of a lack of a viable alternative (although that is a factor).

Surprisingly, I know a lot of educated Italians who've voted for the guy. My close Italian friends HATE him though.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Petulia - I do think it's easier said than done given the MASSIVE conflict of interest Berla enjoy via his media empire. I do have hope that the energy of younger voters will cause some change.

kataroma - I agree. I do believe Berla knows exactly how his actions resonate with a large segment of the population.

During his first campaign he painted himself as a poor businessman fighting "against" the corrupt elite. A very powerful message in a country where most businesses are family owned and people have to deal with an insane amount of red tape to get anything done.

I understand how he got elected the first time. There was a vacuum after the Christian Democrats fell apart, he was media savvy, etc. but the third time? What?!!

What you wrote reminds of the Bush/Kerry campaign. How voters felt they'd rather have a beer with Bush than with Kerry. A crazy way to decide who do vote for, but I get how important "narrative" is. Despite that fact that Bush was from one of the wealthiest families in America he was able to paint himself as more down to earth. Incredible.

I worry Berla's party is only getting stronger. I wonder if he will serve out his whole term, then what? Where is Casini in all this?

Diana Strinati Baur said...

I am with Kataroma too. The problem is that when the opposition manages to get in, they screw it up so badly with outdated legislation which not only sends the country once again into compliance disarray also into a downward spiral of rules screwing the small guy. This is what I believe is at the heart of the problem. Many Italians are actually entrepreneur-types... He or she might be a hair dresser, a bar owner, or a mason. It is really hard, no it is ridiculous trying to start a new business in Italy. The general attitude is to treat new business owners like they are planning on being tax evaders. And this gets a lot worse, almost impossibly worse, when the PD comes to town.

I have never met anyone who likes Berlusconi. No one. They think what we all think about him. But mention Prodi, and they all hate him much more. Prodi's government strangled and drowned small businesses with things like the following proposals: making real estate agents responsible if the heating system in a home they were selling did not work, making accountants responsible for illegal activities of their clients, imposing multi-thousand euro fines for not paying for the license to play your radio at your place of business (yeah, like a transistor radio in a bar). No wonder Italians default to the devil they know. In all of his silliness, the lounge lizard still knows you can't kill new business initiatives as if we were still living back in the USSR.

Italy needs to get a grip and realize it is part of Europe. I really don't know what it will take.

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Just one more comment, to clarify: with accountants, what the Prodi government wanted was to increase the paperwork requirements to the point that each accountant would have to triple the time spent on each client -- and did so retroactively. We tried to get an appointment by a new accountant during the Prodi era and were told to call back in six months to a year -- it would take that long to just bring their old clients into compliance, and by that time they expected that they themselves would be out of business from fines and not having any new income. Berlusconi came back, and the problem was reversed and rectified. All of that wasted energy for a compliance that was meaningless.

J.Doe said...

If no one likes Berlusconi than how did he get reelected? Controlling most of the TV stations will get you only so far.
I don't understand why Mrs. Berlusconi write articles to any paper discussing her husband's penchant for young beautiful women. I agree with Kataroma-it only helps him in the polls because the Italians admire an old man who can get young women interested in him, regardless of whether they are married or not.
I think if Mrs. Berlusconi were really upset she would write instead to a good divorce lawyer rather than the NY Times.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

diana - I remember asking friends about Prodi. These are folks who are center to center-left. They HATED Prodi. I read a statistic that over 85% of the companies in Italy from the biggest (Barilla, FIAT, Benneton, Prada, etc.) to the mom and pop shops are family owned. So all of these new regulations/taxes from the last government didn't go over so well. Especially when Berla and his crew didn't seem to have to follow the same rules.

Why did Prodi think the proposals you mentioned were a good thing? I'd love to know who was the brilliant staffer/legislator who wrote those bills. If anything there needs to be less red tape!

j. doe - His approval ratings are high as well. I refuse to believe that the only people voting for him are poor housewives from the south. Please. His party won some pretty important local elections all over Italy. As to Mrs. Berlusconi, I can't even wrap my head around that dynamic. I assume they do not live together. I wonder why she doesn't divorce him. Maybe she doesn't believe it in it. Curious to see what happens with the children. Rupert Murdoch is having the same issues with his children from different marriages.

Tracie B. said...

i guess she can comfort herself with more plastic surgery.

Anonymous said...

you're looking at the gossip fluff too much, and too little at the data : surveys have shown quite well that lavoratori autonomi vote the guy, and salarypeople vote the other guys.

milanesemasala said...

Well, after the events of this weekend now we can say "Mr. Berlusconi isn't happy". There's a bit of media overkill on the divorce but he had it coming. Now it'll be interesting to see what kind of a spin his people are going to put on it. I'm sure they're going to find a way to crucify Veronica. People have been saying she should have asked for a divorce years ago but it couldn't have been easy for her, knowing what she has to go against. And unfortunately, she won't find much solidarity among Italian women. I agree with Kataroma's analysis about why men vote for him but it boggles the mind why older female voters love that slimebucket. Are they used to women being treated like garbage? I just don't get it.

glamah16 said...

I hope she takes him for all he's got. Shes strong to put up with that crap. I have little knowledge of Italian poilitics, but hopefully there will be a good alternative soon.