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  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(February 26, 2013)
    In a globalized world, the gigantic wave laps on distant shores, and never have Italian voters generated so much outside interest as during the two days of national general elections Feb. 24-25. For their part, Italian commentators have borrowed the phrase "Tsunami Tour", as actor-politician Beppe Grillo dubbed his campaign, as a larger metaphor for the stunning results.
  • Grillo's exploit Oct. 10 was the official launch of his party, Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S), into the Sicilian regional election fray. In the event, Grillo had the last laugh, for when the Oct. 28 ballot boxes were opened, they showed that M5S has bounced up from zero to 14.7%, to become the single largest party in Sicily, well ahead of such rivals as Pier Luigi Bersani's Partito Democratico (PD) on the left and Silvio Berlusconi's Partito della Liberta' (PdL) on the right.
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(August 13, 2012)
    Ferragosto – the name derives from the original Feriae Augusti summer festival proclaimed by the Emperor Augustus – is a major holiday celebrated on August 15 when all of Italy shuts down, and streets are deserted. This peak of summer holidays is what the media pros call “the silly season,” when reporters are allowed a long leash for gossip in the absence of hard news.
  • Facts & Stories
    Judith Harris(July 27, 2012)
    The upward surge of the spread to today's 506.48 for 10-year bonds (but 519 at the opening of the markets) has reignited interest in holding elections this November, six months ahead of schedule. The emergency premier Mario Monti reportedly told President Giorgio Napolitano Wednesday that, "My government has done what it could." Whether or not these were Monti's precise words, they definitely express a darkening mood.
  • According to the pollsters, Beppe Grillo's share of the Italian electorate amounts to 16%, while Silvio Berlusconi's Partito della Libertà continues to sink like a stone. Meanwhile, the political pundits are suggesting that Mario Monti's government might not last beyond this summer, precipitating elections at least six months ahead of schedule.
  • Whatever the interpretations, with one-fifth of the electorate called to vote, the elections Sunday and Monday amounted to a serious sampler. Although its success on the local level is not yet comparable to that of the Socialist sweep in France, the Center-Left, led by the Partito Democratico (PD), but with outside support, fared better than any other coalition.
  • An American student discovers that Parolacce (Dirty Words) are part of the Italian people everyday vocabulary. They are used by students, housewives, actors, blue and white collars to express feelings and emotions. And by politicians too.
  • Imagine Michael Moore leading a national protest against the corrupted political class. Beppe Grillo is an unconventional comedian turned to political activism. He has been producing controversial shows for almost 20 years, making people laugh and sigh with his sharp humor.

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