Italian election has been one of the most colourful events in Rome. Residents were not only flooded with election material and thousands of ‘propaganda-style’ posters, but also rallies, occasional protests and too much speculation about an event that is considered to be a normal cycle of electoral life in democratic countries.
However, this time, the Italian election has demonstrated another face of Italy. People were brave enough to elect a comedian and an ‘underdog’, Beppe Grillo, in the least frequented national election since the Second World War. Grillo has been Italy’s most popular political commentator, whose anti-corruption blog is Italy’s most popular and who in 2005 was named in the Time magazine as one of Europe’s heroes. In 2006, Grillo was voted as the world’s 7th digital personality, according to the Forbes magazine. He is unlikely to enter Parliament as he has a conviction in his name for a manslaughter in a car accident, which killed 3 people in 1980. However, his alliance’s (Movimento 5 Stelle) electoral slogan is to expose corruption in the Italian Parliament, enact required reforms and possibly hold a referendum on Italy’s membership of the Eurozone.
Grillo’s party won the most votes on single-party preference (25.5 per cent of the general vote), and has woken up even the most disinterested of voters. It sent a clear sign that another Berlusconi-dominated era marked with sex scandals and double standards is NOT ok, and that people were unhappy with Monti’s strangling taxes. However, Grillo needs to lead the party from essentially an anti-establishment movement to a valuable political player in Italian politics for the future of Italy in Europe.
The future is bright for Rome as the capital city since it will not cease being the centre of intrigues for the Italian politics. We, the observers, will forever wonder how much will the situation need to deteriorate before we witness a significant change of mentality and practice in this country. Italy needs to change and re-create its spirit of resilience, like its ancestors did following the devastation after WW2. But for now, let Italian new magician Grillo sing, even on the parliamentary platform and defend interests of his voters vis-a-vis more austerity measures and a declining economy.