The rise of anti-immigration parties and a comeback for Berlusconi? We’re really rolling the dice on this one.

Today, Italy is heading to the polls to vote in their general election. See this article, this article and the video below for an overview of what’s happening in Italy, who the key parties and candidates are. As a citizen living abroad, I can vote for one of the 12 seats allocated to citizens abroad. Through doing a bit of reading, I’ve found that there are 5 main parties, only 1 of them is pro-EU and isn’t competing for the ‘Most Made Up Number For How Many Illegal Immigrants We’re Going To Kick Out’ award. I’m very worried as to what will happen tomorrow, when the results are announced.

My first and main worry is that Berlusconi is back. Yep. Paying for sex with a 17 year old, being prosecuted for tax fraud and being a massive racist has not damaged this man’s reputation. Silvio Berlusconi is the billionaire social figure-cum-politician of Donald Trump with the power over the TV channels and news reports of Rupert Murdoch. The 81 year old should not even be standing for elections due to his conviction in 2013 and I don’t think anyone can quite work out how he’s getting away with it. He’s not the real leader of the far-right coalition he’s somehow formed, but he is the figurehead for it and so people are voting for him, even though he legally can’t actually hold a position in office for another year. The coalition however, can hold office, and there is no doubt that Berlusconi will wield a lot of power over it.

So here is The Guardian’s take on how and why Berlusconi has risen again and Italy are willing to take him back after all the shit he put us through the first time. It’s as if the country collectively has developed Stockholm Syndrome – there’s an acknowledgment that he did bad things,  but he loves the country and wants what’s best for us, at least he’s not like the elitist politicians being paid off by the mafia.

If that’s not bad enough, then let’s talk about racism. Racism is rife in Italy and it’s no wonder why four of the main parties are anti-immigration. As stated, the parties are competing as to who can deport the most “illegal” immigrants. Yes, Italy might have had an “influx of immigrants” over the last few years – it is the main entry point from the Mediterranean to Europe – but to me, most of these people are not “immigrants” they’re refugees with the right to flee their home in search for safety and should be treated with much more respect than they are currently given. What concerns me more is the culture persisting in Italy and the neo-fascist politicians who utilise the pre-existing xenophobia to further their agenda and gain votes. This is bluntly shown in the recent shooting of six African immigrants by an ex-candidate for Lega Nord. The response from Matteo Salvini (leader of the party) was to blame immigration, claiming that this was evidence Italy needs to deport immigrants, one of their main policies. Italy is a beautiful country with so much to offer the world and its citizens – I love being Italian – but I cannot ignore the hatred towards non-white (as well as white-but-not-Italian) residents. It genuinely scares me, where the country has been and where it could easily fall back to, with policies like this coming from its main parties.

On top of the racism, there is a large amount of homophobia coming from the politicians. Berlusconi made a remark about how it it is “better to like girls than to be gay” when questioned about one of his ‘bunga bunga’ parties (video). If that wasn’t bad enough, Giorgia Meloni, leader of Fratelli d’Italia, has caused controversy over her ‘traditional family values’ which inevitably have resulted in anti-same-sex marriage and adoption policies. Like the racism in Italy, homophobia is a serious problem. Politicians are able to play upon the minority of people who are obnoxiously homophobic and push that into their policies. In short, I have very little faith if any of the parties mentioned come to power. I know that there are a few centre-left and pro-EU parties, but these are small and aren’t mainstream, meaning that people are more likely to vote for the bigger, more known and, unfortunately, bigoted parties.

I’m anxious as to what the results will be tomorrow. Surprisingly, the best result may be no clear winner and so Italy will remain in the political limbo it’s been in since Matteo Renzi resigned, leading to another election later on. For me, the best outcome would be for the PD to remain in power but to gain enough of a majority to actually get something done (but this is unlikely to happen). Until then, please enjoy John Oliver’s hilarious take on the Italian election:

(John Oliver’s “application” to be president reminds me of the film ‘Benvenuto, Presidente!‘ – which is on Netflix with English subtitles of anyone wants to watch it.)

*Note on the sources*

I’m aware that most of the sources used in this post are from The Guardian. This is a result of their very good commentary on all aspects of the election and the key players, as well as being a reliable news outlet with no paywall. If there are sources with a different view, please feel free to link them in the comments.