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Friday, February 22, 2013

Will German anti-Berlusconi rethoric actually boost Silvio's chances?

Mario Monti has never claimed to be a professional politician. His lack of political experience became evident when he said,
[German Chancellor Angela] Merkel fears the success of left-wing parties [in Italy], especially in an election year for her. I don't think she has any desire to see [Pier Luigi Bersani's] Democratic Party arrive in government.
Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, quickly shot Monti down.The German Chancellor "has not made comments on the Italian elections. Nor did she do any in the past", he said.

Though it may seem like a minor event, the Italian press was all over it. And it's interesting as it may play straight into Silvio Berlusconi's hands. The man has built his election campaign on strong and uncompromising anti-German austerity rhetoric. He might be minded to ask if Monti cares more about Merkel than Italian voters?

This also illustrates how potentially counterproductive it is for German politicians to wade into the Italian election debate. Merkel may not endorse a candidate, but it is pretty obvious who the Germans don't want to see in power.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told Italian weekly L'Espresso,
I know very well that Silvio Berlusconi is a very effective electoral strategist. However, I'm convinced that Italians are clever enough not to make the mistake of voting for him again.
Another senior member of Merkel's CDU, Ruprecht Polenz, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, said,
Italy needs leadership for the future. Berlusconi does certainly not represent that.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle did not name Il Cavaliere, but told Süddeutsche Zeitung,
Whoever forms the new [Italian] government, we count on the pro-European course and the necessary reforms to continue.
The more extraordinary since these politicians are all supposed to be Berlusconi's 'fellow' centre-right politicians. Now, the big question is, will this kind of stuff coming out of Germany boost or reduce Berlusconi's chances, given that it fits perfectly within his narrative that Italy is being kicked around by Berlin? Remember when a whole host of Europeans lined up to oppose George W. Bush (not that we compare the two) in 2004, acting as the ideal recruitment sergeants for the Bush campaign...

If you want to know what we think about Berlusconi, the Italian elections and what they mean for the future of the eurozone, check out our new briefing outlining a number of post-election scenarios. And follow us on Twitter @OpenEurope or @LondonerVince for real-time updates from Italy.  


Freedom Lover said...

I would be very pleased if Berlusconi wins again. Best of luck to him & all his Bunga-bunga parties!

Anonymous said...

It is a constant source of amusement how politicians in some countries never seem to learn that making provocative comments about fellow countries so often leads to the opposite result they wish for. David Cameron please note!


christina speight said...

Just to remind readers of one great question - - This thread starts with Sgr Monti - just remind me please. How many Italians voted for him? Was he not an EU Commissioner and does he not have a conditional EU pension - the condition being that he always supports the EU.
Where does Italy come into all this?

Berlusconi is in most people's eyes outside Italy a " loveable rogue" but very shrewd with it. He has more savvy than all the rest put together and plenty of "get up and go"!

Rik said...

Merkel herself is the only German politician that take into consideration the fact that statements not only are part of a discussion, but also have a more emeotional effect on voters (and politicians btw). And in this case not only in Italy but also in her own country. She made the mistake with the Greek billionair son's referendum but will not repeat it.

Basically a mistake whole the pro-EU bunch is making. They already defend in general unpopular ideas while often that is not necessary. But also make themselves look elitist and anti-democratic. Anti-democratic will almost never work.
NBot without reason approx 15-20% more people are pro referendum than pro-exit. And similar things you se all over Europe.
Elitist could work, but you have to be sure you deliver. Not like now when you are standing till your nose in selfproduced manure. So these politicians should stay away from that as much as possible as they are messing usually everything up.

Also in relation to politicians. The relation Berlusconi is already spoilt. If he would come out on top working with him will be difficult enough, not have to make it worse.

And without a reason simply unlikely it does any of your causes any good in any way.
Try to stay out and if you have to comment say at least 3 times that it is up to the Italians to decide as it is a democratic country.
The only good thing is that he didnot also menstion that a large group of Italians are too stupid for words to vote for Berlusconi.

Also the perception that politicians have of themself is often simply funny. Did somebody like Tony Blair really thing that he is the one that can convince sceptical Tories to go for an EU-in. What he is more likley to do is give Farage an extra % in the polls. Putting more pressure on Cameron and likely indirectly leading to Cameron harden his present position.

Simple divide the market in segments and consider how it will work out with each group. Identify your target market and work thereon. Like via media that gets to them.
Eg no use to adress UKIP voters via the Guardian. Message is likely to be twisted by the people there anyway and it is a) not a credible medium for the target audience and b) you are not reaching the target audience anyway.

Like with the Tony Blair EU referendum example. Interview was as such pretty good as usual with Blair. Good oneliners disguished as normal sentences. Keep sticking great in people's brains. But he wants people to move from a majority position to that of his. And these people find him simply completely uncredible. He is simply totally unfit for the targetaudience.
What he does is mainly confirm to that Out-majority that they are on the right track, with being pro-out. And subsequently makes it more difficult to achieve his goals in the future. You would not have Thatcher sell something to hardened trade union members. It simply doesnot work.
Blair would have been much better served by making it technical remarks on his worries about the uncertainties around an exit.

Anonymous said...

Go Bunga-Bunga!
Somebody needs to be the first to pull the plug on the euro and after the first domino it's going to be easier for the long suffering euro countries to quit.