Italian election highlights lack of legimate candidates

In early February in Italy, 18-year-old Pamela, who had been missing for a few weeks, was found in two suitcases.  She was cut into literal pieces.  A Nigerian migrant who was found tailing Pamela before she went missing was arrested.  His permit to stay in Italy was expired, and he’d already been caught selling drugs.

While this may seem like a random crime, it points toward a tense political discussion over immigration in Europe.  Italy in particular has seen increasing political violence.  Forza Nuova, a far-right party, marches in the streets of Italy carrying signs that state “Italy to the Italians” and performs the classic Mussolini salute.  They quickly clashed with anti-fascist protesters bringing more violence.

Recently, a man carrying a candle branded with Mussolini’s face open-fired onto a group of African immigrants, killing six people. This and countless other acts of political violence make Italy’s upcoming election even more important.

Italy has seen increased action by both right-wing fascist parties and left-wing anarchists. At the heart of this conflict is immigration. Italy has seen increased migration from Africa, and it has become home to refugees from the Middle East. There’s a growing fear among native Italians that Italy cannot hold such a large amount of people.

Jobs in Italy become harder and harder to find. This is in part due to the influx of migrants. Other Italians fear potential danger from migrants, which considering the story of Pamela and her suitcases, is not entirely irrational. Some Italians have also noted concern over the cultural change these migrants may bring.

Political tension is rising, and it may come to a climax during this weekend’s election for prime minister. As for good news, it will all come to an end soon. In bad news, there are a few main candidates and all of them are terrible.

First is Silvio Berlusconi. If you know who he is, you’re probably thinking, “This idiot? Again?” and if you don’t know who he is, I’m sorry for bringing him into your life. Berlusconi was prime minister for nine long years, and after he was convicted of tax fraud in 2013, he was banned from serving public office for six years.

For all those who are bad at simple math, 2013 + 6 = 2019, not 2018. He’s still technically banned! But since apparently that doesn’t matter and he’s running for prime minister, let’s go over his career. Berlusconi began his career in construction and moved into media in the ’70s with his company TeleMilano. In the late ’70s, he founded Finivest, a media group, and became the creator of the first and only Italian commercial TV empire.

In the mid ’90s, he rose to political fame and was appointed prime minister in 1994. After a mere nine months, his cabinet collapsed. Later in 2001, he was again elected prime minister and led until 2006.  He was elected again in 2008 and resigned in 2011 due to the European debt crisis.

Berlusconi ran again, but lost, and was criticized for his association with far-right groups and for some apologetic remarks about Mussolini. While in office, he wasn’t exactly scandal free. He had control over the largest media group in Italy, thus controlling coverage of himself while in office.

He also had quite a few sex scandals. In 2010, he was convicted of hiring a 17-year-old Moroccan prostitute. Later, the prostitute was arrested for the theft of 3,000 euros. Berlusconi got her released. Still, controversy surrounded the situation, largely because he was a 74-year-old man (who happened to be leading Italy) allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute.

In 2011, he was put under investigation for his relationship with the prostitute and for getting her released from prison for theft. Later, in March of 2011, the prosecutors attempted to press charges on a TV anchorman and celebrity agent for procuring underage girls, creating a pimping network in order to attend “bunga bunga” sex parties with the prime minister.

In 2013, Berlusconi was found guilty of paying a minor for sex and abusing his position. He was banned from public office for life. In 2014, he successfully appealed the decision. In 2017, an Italian brought him to stand on trial. He’d been accused of paying 10 million euros to bribe witnesses and silence his former accusers.

And that’s only one of the candidates for prime minister.

Another is Matteo Renzi, who was prime minister from 2014 to 2016. He resigned after the failure of his referendum on the constitution. His only scandal seems to be that his father, Tiziano Renzi, was accused of corruption after attempting to illegally influence Consip decisions.

The third contestant for prime minister is Luigi Di Maio. He’s the leader of the Five Star Movement, which is a populist, anti-establishment party created by comedian Beppe Grillo. Di Maio is also the son of a member of an Italian neo-fascist movement. He is the face of Italian populism. He’s taken a hard stance against immigration, criticizing rescue efforts in the Mediterranean as a sea-taxi service.

Another ridiculous populist candidate is Matteo Salvini. A supporter of Salvini’s once said, “I like him.  Sure, he’s a fascist, but what can you do?” That about sums it up.

It seems most likely that Berlusconi will win, although no one can really be sure. Anyways, RIP Italy.

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