Italy is voting for a prime minister for the 62nd time since the end of the second world war, and unless a miracle occurs, it will elect Belusconi for a third term. Oh, Italy! North of the Alps we are having a very hard time understanding how a man who has no qualms whatsoever about connecting his business and political interests and expanding his media monopoly can be elected to replace the solid and hardworking Prodi. But on the other hand, as an American, what can I say? We voted for Bush – twice.
There is some small comfort. When I last heard the news, the reporters were complaining that the voters had not turned out in force yet. Only 50% of the population had cast their ballots. I’ll bet you they were doing overtime at church, asking God, “Dear Lord, whom shall I vote for?” I sure hope the answer was “Vote for Beppe Grillo”.
Beppe Grillo is not a politician, he’s a popular Italian comedian, actor, and political satirist who is leading a populist movement of people angry at the politicians. At least he gives poor Italy something to laugh about as they try to figure out where to take their crumbling economy and political system, with a government permeated by patronage, corruption, mafia ties and inefficiency. Grillo is tapping into a deep well of distrust that Italians have for politics. It seems they associate politics with words like disgust, anger and boredom.
Beppe Grillo was an accountant before he became a comedian, and he has been prophetic about financial scandals that politicians were involved in, from the embezzlement story that brought down the Craxi government to the Parmelat bankruptcy filing. Then last year on September 8, 2007 he organized the first major “V-Day”, with over 100,000 people coming together to tell the politicians to “f*ck off” (which is what the Italian V-word means). He’s calling for a V2 day in just a few weeks, on April 25th.
Grillo is a wiz at using technology to activate people, using meetup.com to drum up crowds. Time magazine chose his blog (which appears in Italian and English) as one of the top 25 blogs in 2007, explaining its popularity by saying, “Grillo speaks the international language of outrage.”While he does not have political aspirations, he urges his followers to run for political office in their home towns.Watch the great news video on Beppe Grillo that my dear friend Elena has tipped me off to. When the story was filmed, 1/2 of those surveyed said they would consider voting for Grillo in the next elections. Pity: it’s not happening.
- New York Times: In a Funk, Italy sings an Aria of Disappointment (article with video)
- Video on NYT: The Comic Who Shook Italy
- Time: List of top 25 blogs 2007
- Beppe Grillo’s blog in English
Learning the ropes – Vokabeltraining für die bessere Wortwahl
miracle – Wunder
term – Amtszeit
qualms – Skrupel
small comfort – kleiner Trost
turn out in force – massenhaft erscheinen
to cast a ballot – Stimmzettel abgeben
to do overtime – Überstunden machen
comedian – Komiker
where to take – wohin mit
crumbling – abbröckelnd
permeated – durchdrungen
patronage – Protektion
to tap into – anzapfen
a deep well of distrust – ein tiefer Brunnen des Mißtrauens
disgust – Ekel
boredom – Langeweile
accountant – Buchhalter
embezzlement – Veruntreuung
to bring down the government – Regierungssturz herbeiführen
bankruptcy filing – Insolvenzanmeldung
wiz – wizard (Zauberer)
to drum up – zusammentrommeln
outrage – Entrüstung
to urge – anspornen
to run for political office – sich um ein politisches Amt bewerben
to tip someone off to something – jemandem einen Tipp über etwas geben
surveyed – befragt
(what a) pity = schade, was für ein Jammer
to be in a funk – deprimiert sein
disappointment – Enttäuschung
Learning English tip of the week
Leaving out a part of the sentence, as in “(What a) Pity!” is called “ellipsis”. We use it in emails, too, when we say “(I’ll) See you later” or “(I’m) Looking foward to seeing you tomorrow.”
Practice: Send someone a text message this week in English inviting them to meet you for an espresso.