April 12, 2006
I find the drama playing out in Italy fascinating. Not only because of the similarity to our last two elections, but because of the striking things that happened while I was visiting.
On many occasions - it happened so often that it was disconcerting - when finding out I was from the US, Italians would apologize to me for Berlusconi. Literally. On more than one occasion, strangers on the street would say "We are sorry for Mr. Berlusconi. We do not like him. He is a friend of Bush." It was always a little odd because it came out of nowhere, but I was always amused how the Italian accent made it sound like "boosh", completing the disdain with such emphasis. Even police officers at Olympic security screening stations would make sure we knew that. It almost seemed like people were looking for solidarity between Italian citizens and US citizens; and in some cases it seemed they were trying to say "Don't worry, we don't hate you. We understand."
Given how prominent the dislike for their Prime Minister was, I was always suprised to hear that polls were showing it to be a competitive race. When I asked someone about this, they said Berlusconi held a lot of people in big business and fundamentalist religious groups, as well as borderline voters worried about terrorism. Interesting.
Let's hope the similarities end there.
Posted by Jon Berry at 10:36 PM