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Posts Tagged ‘Northern League

The Right to Be Forgotten

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The Italian Government is always working hard to improve and polish the legal system, so to facilitate the pursuit of justice and to free citizens from the shackles of bureaucracy. This time, the Northern League, who prides itself of having, among its members, the Minister for Legislative Simplification, has come up with yet another valuable law to protect citizens’ interest.

The proposal, advanced for the second time after a first, failed attempt in 2009, aims to protect “the right to oblivion”. It comes from another fine politician in the Northern League, Miss. Carolina Lussana. This is Carolina Lussana:

The picture portrays her altruism at work. During a vote in the House of Chambers, she is pressing not only her own button,  but also that of someone who does not participate in the vote. Some would say that what she is doing is illegal: however, as I explain below, the right to oblivion will guarantee that this picture will be removed shortly in the near future. So look at it until you can.

Carolina Lussana is concerned with a great anomaly of the Internet: when someone commits a crime, it is possible, years later, for people to find out about that. Hence, she is now fighting so to guarantee that, after a certain amount of time, the information (texts and images) about someone’s crimes will not be accessible anymore by the public.

The core of the argument is the following:

Some people, let’s face it, violate the law. Some, as it happens, pay for their crimes. After they’ve done so, if one keeps talking about those crimes, he or she violates their privacy. If, to give an absurd example, a man corrupts a politician to win a contract, and he is then condemned, then how could one justifiably look him up on the internet, years later, to find out about his past crime? We need to limit the access to this kind of information, so to limit the “suffering of the person who committed the crime, and of his family”.

Carolina Lussana highlights the dangers looming behind technical advancement: “Before the advent of the Internet, the echo of one’s judiciary happenings disappeared reasonably soon, as soon as the interest of the local and national press for that particular fact had gone down. Yet, nowadays, any fact can remain forever on the web, unless the webmaster intervenes to remove it.”

She argues that the left-over of one’s illegal deeds ought to be removed from the internet within a time that varies according to the crime committed. Thos who refuse to forget others’ crime, and keep information about them on their website, will incur a fine between 5,000 and 100,000 euros.

The story, in Italian, can be found here


Written by TheItalianist

12/04/2011 at 05:45

End of a Love

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More drama on the Italian scene. This time, the drama takes place at an open debate of the PDL, The People’s Freedom, Italy’s ruling coalition led by Berlusconi. For us Italians, so used to kisses, tears, love, hugs, and the various performances of the defenders of “Love that wins over hatred and envy”, today was a bit of a shock.

Here’s what happened. There were these elections in Italy, a couple of weeks ago. Against the odds, and in spite of a quite messy build-up in the final weeks, the Right Wing, Berlusconi-led coalition, brought home a clear success over the not-so-charismatic Left-Wing opposition (see previous post).  The clearest outcome of the elections were that a) few people than ever went to vote and b) more people voted for the Northern League.

The Northern League is one of the most influential parties in Italy, with strong leaders and clear plans about reforming Italy. It is known for its commitment to protecting Italy’s culture and values, and for a perfectly rational attachments to tribal ceremonies like baptizing each other with the water of their sacred river Po. They use to refer to themselves as “colonies of Padania”, and are somewhat wary of big associations, like multi-region nations, not to mention the EU.

It turned out that the Northern League was the real winner of the Regional Elections: Berlusconi got less votes for himself, but could take advantage of the Northern League’s votes, given the latter belongs to the coalition he leads. As some have pointed out, this has had some serious effects on the Government’s next moves.

Enter Gianfranco Fini. This is Fini:

In spite of 16 (!) years of life together, he’s often showed a dissatisfaction with having to deal with Berlusconi. How could it be so? – one may wonder.

This unhappiness has increased after the regional election and the already mentioned Northern success. Fini, who leads the second more important Right-Wing group in the Government coalition, AN (National Alliance), got somewhat tired of the PDL’s supine obedience to the policies the Northern League is now pushing. Again, it is hard to accept this may be possible..

After weeks of mild reciprocal challenges, the two came to a showdown today. Fini got to talk at the PDL convention, and he raised some criticisms directly at Berlusconi. Now, it is important to specify some things:

a) no one criticises Berlusconi

b) even more importantly, no one ever criticises Berlusconi in public

c) no one ever criticises Berlusconi in front of TV cameras

Fini breached these three fundamental principles of Italian democracy, and in fact he has already been labelled a communist (according to the Italian rule that says “against Berlusconi” = against democracy = communist). He went on the stage and raised questions to the PM: mainly, he questioned the direction the PDL is taking. He highlighted contradiction between claiming to intend to defend the authority of the law and enacting some policies. He prided himself for criticising the PM openly in spite of being ridiculed by ‘certain press’ owned by PM’s relatives. He congratulates the PM as the real winner of the regional elections, yet he also asked “to be honest: now that the elections have gone, let’s say clearly that none of us believe there was a plot from the judges to deprive us of the victory, but that we just messed it up ourselves..”.

Too much, even for an ex-fascist. I’m surprised he’s still alive. Berlusconi got on the stage after him, and made it clear to him that if he wanted to make criticisms of the Government’s action, he should abandon his role of President of the Lower House of the Parliament, because he is meant to be super partes. Curiously, Berlusconi never gave similar orders to the President of the Senate, Renato Schifani.

“Our party has been exposed to public humiliation by its own members! Gianfranco, let’s talk to each other clearly! You said you are ashamed of having formed the PDL! This is the truth!!” Then he continued: “You are supposed to be super-partes, you cannot make judgments on the Government action! You cannot make these judgments if you are President of the Lower House.” Fini, from the audience, stood up and, waving his finger at Berlusconi, asked “Or what? Are you going to kick me out?”

The country is under shock. A breach in the PDL seems hard to avoid. Right-wing voters express their rage against Fini, “the traitor”, the mercenary sold to the communists. Left-wing voters struggle to acknowledge sympathy for an ex-fascist who has also shared Berlusconi’s bed for the last 16 years. Berlusconi is surely preparing one of his stylish coupe de theatre. The Northern League, in the meantime, appears unshaken by these issues.

Written by TheItalianist

22/04/2010 at 23:03

Nessun dorma

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After a (very long) series of adventures (see previous post), regional elections finally took place in Italy over the last two days. Reports can be found here, here and here.

Some will celebrate the charismatic leaders  who have won this exciting political contest. Others will mourn the sinking of Italy’s opposition against a coalition that makes every effort to be defeated. Others, and I am among them, will nonetehless be positively surprised by some results. That’s life.

The PM, in the meantime, remains vigilant over Italy, keen to defend its image both at home and abroad:

Written by TheItalianist

30/03/2010 at 19:34

A Cap on Multiculturalism

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Further performances of the Italian Government as regards immigration policy. Today it is about reforming the school system.

The Minister of Education, Mariastella Gelmini, has announced new policies regulating the number of foreigners which will be allowed in each class in primary and secondary italian schools from the next academic year (2010-11).

This is Gelmini:


I have to admit it is the first time I don’t manage to find a picture of a female minister who is not being portrayed naked (see previous posts on this blog).. Anyway, the elegant Mariastella has made public that the Italian Government has planned to introduce a cap on the number of foreign students who will be allowed to attend Italian schools next year: no more than 3 every 10 students, that is, no more than 30% per each italian class. A fuller account of the story can be found here.

Now, I don’t think this is a completely unreasonable thing, or at least I think it is below the average madness of this Government’s proposals. But still, there are lots of things that make little sense to me.

To begin with: Gelmini says that this policy has nothing to do with racism, rather it is a plan to favour multicultural integration. Her reasoning goes as follows:

some people exist in Italy which are not Italian; they don’t speak Italian nor do they know our culture; if we let them free to enrol in school, they will all go together and, therefore, will create fully foreign classes; this will cause “ghettoes”; this will stop an (already flourishing..) process of integration. The 30% cap is accompanied by a requirement that foreign students pass a test of Italian culture, by which they will have to demonstrate a not-clearly specified knowledge of Italian language and culture.

What will they have to do to pass this test, I wonder.. Will they have to sing the national anthem? Will they have to quote the Divine Comedy? Will they have to cook polenta taragna? Perhaps they will have to prove they know how to become a Minister in Italy; how the university system is structured; how to deal with different sexual orientations; how the role of the modern woman impacts on Italian society; or other peculiar elements of the Italian culture.

Gelmini was keen to specify that, where this requirement is fulfilled, schools have the autonomy to accept more than 30%; likewise, if less than 30% shows proper knowledge of Italian culture, that will be as much as it is ‘allowed’ per class.

But why putting a cap? Why not simply saying “those who don’t pass the test, don’t go to our schools!” It is not clear why, even if one qualifies as Italian connoisseur, s/he cannot have access to a class because s/he is out of the 30%. Faced with the idea of a ‘limit’, one can’t help thinking that the message is that “there is a limit to our tolerance! Fine, you three come in, you 7 bugger off… Oh, look, she’s handing me a blank cheque…. You come in too, my little would-be Italian. You 6 go back to your countries and be ashamed.” And why 30%? Why not 50%?

Not that I like the idea of the test either. True, to go to the US or UK as an exchange student, one of the main requirements is to pass the infamous TOEFL test. However, that is higher education, whereas in the case of Italy we are talking of primary and secondary schools.. Mah.

What happens to those who do not fall in that 30%? Mariastella promises that transports will be provided to take those disadvantage kids to a special school everyday, and back home. She does not mention where the money to afford these expenses will arrive from. Nor is it clear what these schools will look like. Like ghettos, maybe?.. Given the level of openmindedness of the average Northern League voter, it is not hard to imagine what will happen to the 70% of foreign kids.

The main problem with this Government’s approach is that it is dramatically one-way: it is the Italians who are taking the foreigners on, and the latter ones are simply a burden. Once again, the idea of a “cap” seems to convey exactly this message: integration is still equated with grudging acceptance. No one mentions that a foreign student is also a resource, not just someone to whom we have to teach how to be a good Italian. It is undoubtedly true that multiculturalism faces (especially) Western countries with new demands: however, this process also has its rewards. How enriched would “our” kids be by sharing their desk at school with someone from a completely different background culture (and viceversa)?

But then, maybe, the Northern League would risk losing part of its supporters in the future. That might be one real cost of multicultural integration: would they be willing to pay it?

I wonder what their leader would reply..


Written by TheItalianist

10/01/2010 at 12:39

Too Much Tolerance?

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The New Year starts for The Italianist in the same way in which 2009 ended, that is, with issues of colour. Today’s news report violent clashes in southern Italy among immigrant workers and the local population, in Rosarno, an anonymous village in Calabria with a population of about 15,000. It is interesting to see the way in which the italian media are covering the story, showing black men throwing stones at police, people screaming, white people saying ‘look what the Africans are doing to our town’, a white woman having a miscarriage because of the violence, and the usual articulated comments by italian politicians.

All the media seem quite keen to show what’s happening, but not so much to explain why it’s happening. Unsurprisingly, what we are offered is the government’s umpteenth lecture about the evils of immigration: we’ve let them in, they  don’t want to work and only bring problems. Let’s focus on colours: white is good, black is bad. And now, some hot girls dancing in a bikini. (This has been a brief tour into the mind of the average italian tv news director).

It doesn’t take a big effort, though, to understand a bit more about what the events in Calabria reveals. Yet, often even a small effort seems too big, and it’s easier to go back to the “white=good, black=bad, we’re white, we’re good, they’re black, they’re bad”.

It wouldn’t take much to find out that these black workers work 12 hours a day picking up oranges in the field, and are paid 20 euros per day. It wouldn’t take much to discover that they live in conditions which would be unbearable to anyone. This is how they sleep, where they wash, where they live sharing tiny barracks among 10-15 people:

It wouldn’t take too much to realise that these black workers live in conditions of slavery. Their bosses keep from their wages the costs of transport of goods, of the (scarce) food they offer, of accessing fresh drinkable water (see here, in italian). These immigrants receive no support for learning italian language, which leaves them unable to integrate with the local communities. Nonetheless, it is impressive to see that many of them are able to articulate their thoughts in a better italian than the locals.. The business they work for is run by local criminal organisations, which in Calabria is the ‘Ndrangheta, whose pockets get the profits of this enormous exploitation. The ‘Ndrangheta enjoys this overly cheap working force, keeping them in the dark, unregulated, with no hope for future integration, and with the constant threat of being sent back home, of losing even this miserable wage. Or simply being killed.

It wouldn’t even take a great effort to see that the riots in Rosarno did not start out of the blue: the night before, two immigrants had been knee-capped by some people from a car; other two had been hit with bars and are now in hospital in serious conditions. No one knows who did this, but rumours have it that  the good whites, not the bad blacks, did it. During the riots, an immigrant has been run over (not by accident) by a car guided by a local. The locals can be rightly upset by havin their town, windows, cars smashed by this angry mob. But who is to be blamed for all this violence?

It wouldn’t take a big effort to realise that what’s happening in Calabria is the result of a more complicated reality than the simple “black=bad” equation. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, the Italian Government does not help making things clearer. Roberto Maroni, the Minister of Home Affairs, has ben prompt to condemn the violence taking place in Rosarno. Let’s remember his face, and his wonderful red glasses:

For Maroni, the problem is clear: we have shown too much tolerance towards the immigrants. Weve been overly generous in accepting these people, and now it’s time for a clampdown (again?) against illegal immigration. I wonder whether Maroni eats oranges, and asks himself where they come from. I wonder if his brain is crowded with images of arian people picking up oranges behind the corner of his house in Northern Italy, waving the italian flag.

But I have to admit that it takes some courage to say Italy has been too tolerant towards immigrants. See this.

Similar comments about the riots in Rosarno have been made by the famous Italian diplomats, the Minister of Defence, Ignazio La Russa (who looks quite happy with the clampdown)

and Maurizio Gasparri (who yet remains focused on thinking about women’s tits)

Once again, according to the italian media it turns out that the blacks are to be blamed. There’s no Ndrangheta, in Italy; there’s no slavery; there’s no racism. Last week, the Inter FC striker Mario Balotelli, who apart from being a great scorer, also happens to be black, expressed publicly his disgust for being constantly targeted by racist insults from the public when playing in Verona. The next day, the major of Verona (a member of the Northern League) hit back at Balotelli, labeling him “immature”.

Don’t abuse their tolerance, Mario.

Written by TheItalianist

09/01/2010 at 05:09

Dreaming of a White Christmas

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A small town  in Northern Italy, Coccaglio, has been working towards realising a so-called “White Christmas Plan“. The plan does not rely on singing Xmas songs under the snow, but on sending police door-to-door to look for illegal immigrants. The operation is due to end on 25th December, hence the ‘Christmas’ bit of the plan’s name.

The plan is part of a ‘security’ program enforced by Roberto Maroni, the Italian  Home Minister famous for his red glasses and his sympathy for ‘civic police’. Coccaglio’s councillor for safety, Claudio Abiendi, explains how “Christmas is not a celebration of hospitality, but of Christian tradition, of our identity”. Hence, the ‘White’ bit of the plan’s name.

Written by TheItalianist

21/12/2009 at 09:08

The Right to Throw Things at Politicians

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In the last 24hours, probably the entire world has witnessed the image of Berlusconi’s face covered in blood after being hit by an object thrown at him by a person, during a public meeting. I have to admit, Berlusconi yesterday looked much scarier than he normally does, and one can’t but feel deeply distressed in seeing a 73-year old man bleeding from his mouth.  Of course, now the debate is all about condemning those who are not condemning Massimo Tartaglia, the guy who threw the object at Berlusconi, and those who are not worried by “the climate of hatred” in Italy. Most of the newspapers in Italy point to yesterday’s event  as the symbol of a worrying increase in political violence, one which signals the necessity of more civilised forms of political confrontation.

This is all sound. No one wants political violence, nor to see on TV old people bleeding from their mouth, especially at dinner time. It doesn’t take a political scientist to realize that Tartaglia’s action cannot find space in a liberal democracy, nor that his behaviour can be considered to any extent part of a political dialogue. Yet, it seems to me that the debate after the attack on Berlusconi is already aiming at the equation “dissent = violence”. Massimo Tartaglia is certainly not a political activist: he is described as a person under therapy for mental instability, and with no political affiliation. He is, so to speak, a mere man from the street, who unfortunately decided to do something really stupid.

However, I think we should ask ourselves why what Tartaglia did was stupid. Clearly, the answer is that he endangered the life of a person: had Berlusconi been hit on the head and not on the face, probably the images shown on TV yesterday would have been much worse. Instead, luckily, after being hit Berlusconi was still in a condition good enough (a) to tell his driver to stop the car rushing him to the hospital, (b) get out (c) pose for the photographers for a good 20 seconds, (d) go back into the car, yet always making sure cameras were on him. Probably that was the extreme effort before the collapse.. Some may point out that his security service has a very strange way to operate (shouldn’t they have taken him away as soon as possible?), but today is not the day to express dissent.

So, Tartaglia’s fault is that he threw an object (btw, a statuette of Milan’s Duomo) that could have seriously injured a 73-years old, to the point of killing him (luckily, Berlusconi is immortal). There is no need to have a debate on this. However, there is an underlying question that puzzles me:  is it wrong to throw things at politicians? Is there anything intrinsically wrong in hating them? Of course one should not act upon that hatred, by it seems that one has a right to hate whoever in foro interno. All the discussion in Italy is revolving around who instigated this ‘climate of hatred’ against Berlusconi: there is no asking why there is such hatred.

It’s a shame that Tartaglia threw at Berlusconi’s face something that could have killed the Italian PM: this goes against the idea of a democracy. One might be less dismissive of political violence, were one to consider that Italy is not even a nearly just society. Violence may be unjustifiable under a regime that allows for political change and, most of all, for the accountability of its political leaders: yet, one could say that where these conditions are not guaranteed, for example where dissent is silenced, or where political leaders are not accountable for their behaviour, things might be different. Under such circumstances, responsible citizens, committed to the values of democracy, might have to recur to violence against an abuse of power that represents a progressive deviation from the ideals of democratic life. Citizens might have to use violence for the sake of democracy.

However, suppose that Italy has a political regime where violence against political leaders is not justifiable. In fact, at the end of the day Italy still has a lot of freedom, compared to undemocratic regimes, and people still do not get shot in the street. So, once again, Tartaglia’s throwing a statuette at the PM is an impermissible action (from a democratic point of view).

But what if Tartaglia had thrown something else, like some vegetables maybe? Or maybe something that may hurt a lot but not harm, like a shoe? Or maybe a tripod?

If Tartaglia had done that, I think we should be talking of ‘good citizens’, people who expose themselves in first person to remind politicians that they are not untouchable, that they have to account for their behaviour as elected rulers of a country. Unfortunately, things yesterday went differently, and we ended up with an old man bleeding from his mouth: that deserves condemnation, and shows the irresponsibility (and probably exasperation..) of Massimo Tartaglia’s act. If we have a right to throw things at politicians in protest, then that right cannot cover things that can crush the politician’s skull.

Violence has no place in a democracy: let’s listen to the Italian Government’s appeal against violence then. Let’s not ruin their endless effort to enhance peace and democracy.

Written by TheItalianist

14/12/2009 at 19:33