"I will restore the emu Italians." Image via Tumblr
If you haven't heard, Silvio Berlusconi, the ex-prime minister of Italy, is back in the running for February's upcoming election. In blunt terms, it's almost as if Sarah Palin were to try and run in 2016, if Palin were a billionaire media mogul prone to gaffes and sex scandals.
But Berlusconi is back, and the current (unelected) prime minister Mario Monti is accusing Berlusconia of being a Pied Piper, calling Berlusconi's promise of a $4 billion euro tax cut an attempt to buy votes. But what else can Monti do? He's still trying to escape Berlusconi's scandal-blackened shadow.
You can't really compare Berlusconi's comeback with Anthony Weiner's ping for reapproval, nor can you compare it to Bloomberg's flip-flop on term limits. Perhaps you could compare it to some synthesis of the two, but you'd still have some awkward ingredients to add. Especially when Paolo, Silvio's brother, is making racist jokes. At an event held to praise a Milanese politician the other day, Paolo summed up his speech by inviting all present to come and watch A.C. Milan's debut of Ghanian-Italian superstar, Mario Balotelli. “Now let’s go see the little family Negro, that crazy hothead,” he said. Sadly, this type of remark is lightly laughed at and shrugged off in Italy's polypartisanal shitshow. (VICE UK thinks the Balotelli acquisition is just another lure for votes.) Of course, here is Balotelli and Paolo shaking hands today:
Another photo of Balotelli with Milan's vice-president, Paolo Berlusconi, at Milanello today: twitter.com/Milanello/stat…— AC Milan News (@Milanello) February 7, 2013
But Paolo's shitty PR is just a coda to Silvio's earlier chorus. He defended Mussolini on Holocaust Rememberance day, a little over a week ago.
"I'm shocked. We all are, but yes, he is running and I think he has good chances," a friend of mine in Bologna said. "Italians have a short memory."
"I'm not surprised that he is going back," Chef Iacopo Falai, an Italian living in Manhattan, told me on the phone."He controls seven elements of the media, it's just not the right thing. He should be treated like a real human being already."
Quartz is musing over whether or not Berlusconi could come back into office without his muscles of media influence. But how might regular people overcome a media mogul? Why, with this here Internet, of course, where Berlusconi is getting fairly roundly lampooned. Right now in Italian politics, Twitter and Tumblr are the place to find some of the best commentary:
"You will restore the magic of the 80s."
Of course there is the chime of support, from il Giornale, which Berlusconi's family owns. Playin' that cuddly dog game seems like a good strategy.
That's countered, of course, by the communist dog who will attack whenever it hears the name "Berlusconi."
Via Sud Italia News
And then there are supporters like this 46-year-old, unemployed Sardinian man:
Fo: «C'è una frase di Shakespeare perfetta per #Berlusconi. "I bugiardi hanno un grave difetto, non si ricordano mai di quello che dicono"».— Federico Sbandi (@FedericoSbandi) February 5, 2013
Loosely translated, that reads: "There is a phrase of Shakespeare that is perfect for Berlusconi. The liars have a serious defect, they never remember what they say."
While Mr. Sbandi's Shakespeare-quoting is certainly memorable, his has hardly been the only anti-Berlusconi tweet floating around:
God save Italy and Europe from #Berlusconi and his circus of dwarfs and dancers— Francesco Filippini (@FrancoFilippin1) February 5, 2013
Anche perché ormai si é capito che Berlusconi é affetto da demenza senile, vero?
— Memento Mori (@pheqo) February 3, 2013
That last one reads "Because now it is understood that Berlusconi is suffering from senile dementia, right?"
In the storm of angry and insightful tweeting, there's also a new documentary being blocked by the Italian government until election day. Girlfriend in a Coma examines Italy's two-decade-long economic decline and takes critical aim at Berlusconi. It's hard to know if Berlusconi himself had any influence on such a timely postponement, but really–need anymore harsh words be pinned against him? It sure seems that way.