Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Will Pinocchio Listen to Mr Grillo?

(Photo: Pinocchio, by Gnegnet).

Saturday, September 8th, more than 300,000 Italians met up in the whole country and the world over to sign a draft bill proposed by Mr Beppe Grillo.

The famous comic artist has been leading for years a tough protest against Italian political parties, turning his blog into the most known and active one in the country.

Calling up Italians to join the Vaffanculo Day (literally "Fuck You Day"), Mr Grillo succeeded in forcing the media to debate his political proposal (

Mr Grillo’s supporters gathered to claim three radical changes:

  1. Citizens have the right to choose the candidates for the Italian Parliament.
  2. No MP can be in office for more than two mandates.
  3. Those citizens who have been convicted on first instance can’t be in office as MP at all.
The whole political system, with the exception of Mr Antonio Di Pietro's Italia dei Valori, rejected Mr Grillo’s proposal as an anti-political menace to democracy. Almost all Italian MPs refuse to acknowledge Mr Grillo’s draft bill, regretting his fiery tones and his words aiming to replace the political parties with the government of the citizens themselves (
Italian opinion makers and journalists showed varied opinions. Mr Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the former Italian President, invited Mr Grillo to acknowledge the role of political parties and to take into account the possibility of making his movement itself a new party (
Mr Eugenio Scalfari, la Repubblica's founder, condamned Mr Grillo’s proposal explaining that assembly government is the ante-room of dictatorships (
The political scientist Giovanni Sartori marked the differences between his own view and Mr Grillo’s one, but said that anyway a gust of wind carrying off the miasmata of the Italian Second Republic will make him really feel relieved (
The Resistance historian Giovanni De Luna warned that Mr Grillo’s movement is pointing at some of the main political issues of the country (La Stampa), while on the same paper the liberal journalist Barbara Spinelli wrote that Mr Grillo is not anti-political, but he actually shows and reports the parties’ unfaithfulness to their voters (
Going into the matter, at present the candidacies for the Italian Parliament are chosen by the parties instead of the citizens. Italian politicians have a very high average age and many MPs are in office since the ’60s, preventing young people to take their place. As Mr Grillo reports, 24 current Italians MPs convicted for different crimes are still in office and nobody asked them to resign (
Let's give for granted that the Constitution is worth dying for and that political parties are an irreplaceable element of democracy, as article 49 clearly explains. Anyhow, Mr Grillo’s draft bill aims to deepen the participation of citizens into the life of the country and is indeed widely acceptable.
But will lying Italy really listen to its "Grillo parlante", the talking cricket who is Pinocchio's conscience in Carlo Collodi's tale? Recent history would make us think it won't listen.
Between 1992 and 1994, indeed, the claim for freedom and justice concerning the inquiries on the bribes of ‘Tangentopoli’ lead to a very opposite end.
"I magistrati di Milano invocavano un ritorno generale alla legalità, ma nell’Italia degli anni ’90 questo non era chiedere poco. Interpretata alla lettera, quella richiesta significava che molte famiglie italiane avrebbero dovuto iniziare a porsi una serie di domande decisamente scomode sul proprio comportamento, su quanto la cultura politica dominante fosse anche la loro stessa cultura."
[The judges of Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office called for a general return to lawfullness, but on the Italy of the 90’s that was asking a lot. Interpreted literally, that request meant that many Italian families should have begun to ask themselves many uneasy questions on their own behaviour. They should have asked themselves if the dominant political culture was their own culture too.]
(Paul Ginsborg, L’Italia del tempo presente. Famiglia, società civile, Stato. 1980-1996, ch. VIII).

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