Whatever you make of his policies, spray-on hair or off-the-cuff remarks, Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi has a knack for marketing.
His entrance into politics in the early 90s was marked by a party with a soccer-slogan name: “Go Italy!” (Forza Italia). A catchy song — that most people can still sing a line or two of — accompanied it, this at a time when Italy still hadn’t properly named a national anthem. The ex-Premier, also a piano bar singer in his youth, penned the lyrics.
Italy creates governments that rise and fall like some kind of perverse carousel, leaving little time for navel gazing. (The inevitable porno-candidates are always on hand to keep things lively, too).
Although media in Italy is still doggedly following the American presidential nomination race, their own government fell and will be back up and running — possibly only to fall again — before there’s a definitive answer to the Hillary-Obama question.
To better help candidates in his new People of Freedom party in mid-April elections, he has quickly prepared a handy “candidate kit” that contains T-shirts, buttons, sample speeches — and info how to best discredit the competition.
The 71-year-old, who held on to the reins for five years making him the record holder for Italy’s longest post-WWII government, hasn’t run out of ideas yet. Some of them seem a little stale, like this season’s slogan: “Get Back Up, Italy!” (Rialzati, Italia!) which doesn’t have the ooomph of earlier incitements, sounding more like a scolding than anything else.
The kit also contains a “value chart” for the party, seven goals for the future, a range of buttons and a flag. To counter opposition, it also contains a list of the 67 new taxes the year-long Romano Prodi government voted in and a poll that shows Berlusconi’s party nearly 10 points ahead.
Berlusconi, who has prepared kits like this one since 1994, always dispenses some homegrown advice — famously monitions about not eating garlic — and his 2008 version does, too.
“Go talk to your local priest, pharmacist and doctor,” he advises would-be politicos. “I have a great relationship with pharmacists — certainly not because I buy Viagra from them.”
Words every man of politics should live by.