Walking around the biggest city in Sardinia, I stumbled across a group of people handing out flyers and maps of the city centre underneath a gazebo which had a massive sign ‘Information Point’. Nothing strange about it, if it wasn’t for the fact that a particular logo and name were etched on the flyers, t-shirts and flags that surround it. I soon find out it was a group of volunteers who had organised it, activists in ‘Popolo delle Liberta’ (translated literally ‘the people of liberty’), the political party led by Silvio Berlusconi which currently has a stronghold on both regional and national government.
No better occasion to ask some questions about the political situation in Italy and their opinions to those who would bare the heat in order to support him.
As not many of them spoke English I spoke to a young guy who was fluent and patiently explained and answered all my questions on Sardinia, Italy and the political situation which I pretended not to understand properly. Whilst I was asking questions others of the group, including the leader of the ‘PDL Youth section for Cagliari’, were wary about the fact I could have been a journalist who could damage their image (see the Youtube video to watch reactions to an interview previously recorded on the same morning by a local newsblog). When I asked them if I could take a picture with them, upload it on my blog and in a newspaper article on Manchester’s student newspaper, however, they sounded more than happy.
When I asked about their affiliation with Mr Berlusconi they universally defended him as if he was ‘victim of a plot’. Today (30th of July) Italy’s highest court will pronounce the final verdict on the former prime-minister who recently declared ‘he had faith in the Italian juridical system’ and that if guilty he would go to jail, something which astounded many who were accustomed to hearing him attack the ‘communist judges’ (toghe rosse) and the conspiracy against him.
‘It has all been decided’ says one of his young supporters, ‘we know they have had it in for him for years now and they are going to continue condemning him’. Most people in Italy would agree with his supporters as on the one hand, there are those who believe it has been fixed for Berlusconi to get charged and on the other, those who believe Mr Berlusconi’s revolutionary vow of trust in ‘the juridical system’ is a clear sign of the game being fixed by bigger centres of power.
When I asked if they believed in the need for a younger and more innovative leader, mixed feelings were expressed. ‘Some people would say that’, confessed one, ‘although currently there is nobody with the same amount of charisma and capability as him’. ‘He is very powerful’ another one said ‘he knows Bush, Putin and many other world leaders’. A rather peculiar choice to sustain the ‘Presidente’ (title with which all media and most Italians on either side of the political spectrum still address him today) as he has only recently been under fire for some of the deals he did with Gheddafi and in more recent scandal surrounding the arrest of two political asylum seekers who were handed over to the Kazakh president/dictator.
By quoting one of the most obsessive slogans of his supporters ‘People are just jealous of Berlusconi because of his success and the fact that aged 76 he can still have a great sex life with hot girls, wouldn’t you like to be like that when you’re old?’. This brought the topic to my all-time favourite ‘sex, orgies and prostitutes’ and things became even more interesting. Mixed thoughts on the right to have orgies or not was the first hurdle. The lady who had been listening to my conversation (and occasionally suggesting a good come back to my questions) was startled when I defended Berlusconi’s right to have orgies in his house immediately clarifying that there were ‘parties not orgies’. The younger guys were more critical towards the Catholic moral stronghold on the country, and agreed that if he wanted to, nobody should stop him from doing what he wanted in his private life (as one can imagine the ins and outs of the circumstances in which he held the parties were not explored as I feared they would refuse to keep going with the interview). When it came to talking about prostitutes however the lady refused categorically to accept it. ‘Berlusconi did not have prostitutes; they were just having parties’. This is one of the key points in the whole Berlusconi dream. According to his supporters Berlusconi is an experienced 74 year old man, great politician and also a party-goer that would never need to pay for sex as his charisma did it all. The eye-watering story of a young boy who used to sing songs on cruise ships and who thanks to his ability became one of the most powerful men on earth is a great story to tell which enforces his image as a ‘hard worker’. The fact that he jokes and has an active sex life makes him, sadly, even more of a hero.
Speaking to his supporters makes one realise the importance of Silvio Berlusoni within his political party which, for the sake of unity, vow loyalty to the leader although often sharing completely political and moral standpoints. On the other side, the Democratic Party also has the same problem and if it wasn’t for their adversity to Berlusconi they too would be divided. Now with the current coalition government things have changed radically and there is a stronger Catholic current within the parliament which together with the massive media bombardment carried out by the Vatican who, as my Nonna would put it, “carries his own briefcase going on the plane” leads me to believe in the possible re-formation of Democrazia Cristiana, one of the longer lasting ruling parties in Italy which dissolved in 1992 when its connections with free-masons and Mafia were uncovered.
Today is an important day for the history of Italy’s second Republic and whether it’s the effect of the heat wave taking its toll on the 76 year-old, or a rational bet based on bigger centres of power that stretch far beyond the Italian borders, Berlusconi has decided to play all his chips Vegas style whilst he awaits for an answer from the Cassazione on the ‘Mediaset trial’.
Not many people are talking about this in the Italian press, yet anything could happen today. No doubt it will be interesting to see once the men in black have made their decisions both in Rome and Sicily and consequentially in the high-court.
Interview done by local news-blog ‘Cagliari Pad’ a few hours before I reached the stand.