Italians Have Hardly Cut Their Baby Teeth on Democracy

By Odone, Cristina | New Statesman (1996), May 14, 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Italians Have Hardly Cut Their Baby Teeth on Democracy


Odone, Cristina, New Statesman (1996)


My Italian cousin, visiting from Milan, was livid: the Economist was a dirty little rag, she screeched. The Financial Times was a waste of paper. Like so many of her compatriots, Francesca is fed up to the back teeth with the campaign run by foreign newspapers against Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's leading prime ministerial candidate. My cousin is no fan of the Cavaliere, who made a hash of being PM first time around, in 1994. His right-wing xenophobia has grown more strident, and dark tales about Mafia links follow him like faithful corgis. But she is furious that the only viable opposition Berlusconi faces comes not from his political opponents, the centre-left coalition led by Francesco Rutelli, but from the media.

I point out that the same is true here in Britain, where only the Telegraph group, Rory Bremner and a handful of columnists such as Nick Cohen and Mark Steel are giving Tony Blair and co a rough ride.

In Italy, though, media intervention -- whether national or foreign -- is more dangerous. British parliamentary democracy has long and strong roots, but in Italy politics has only just crawled out of the shadow of the Mafia, the secret deal-making of the Masons of P2 and a vast network of corruption that saw brown envelopes being passed around from one bureaucratic circle of hell to another. Britons may be weary of parliamentary politics -- but Italians haven't even cut their baby teeth on it. Admittedly, it's not an appetising prospect: parliament, Italian-style, has been allowed by proportional representation to become a pasta bowl of parties coalesced around such issues as hunting, anti-immigration and free love (who could forget Cicciolina?). This messy mob is ruled by coalitions that charge through the endlessly revolving doors -- never staying long enough to foster real allegiance or push through sensible policies.

As a consequence, Italians' indifference to politics is palpable in everything from tax evasion to television -- serious political coverage has shrunk to three programmes, even during election time.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Italians Have Hardly Cut Their Baby Teeth on Democracy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?