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Mass Protests in Italy Against Berlusconi

Anti-Berlusconi protest in Milan, Italy

I was at the Milan ‘if not now, when?’ – ‘se non ora, quando?’ anti-Berlusconi protest today. There were lots of people there, and even if the theme of the protest was the dignity of women, there were plenty of men, families, and children, there too.

Reportedly over one million Italians turned out all over Italy and in cities around the world to politely request Silvio Berlusconi, who is embroiled in allegations of frequenting young female prostitutes and abuse of power, to call it a day. See below for Silvio Berlusconi’s reaction to the protests.

Shouts of ‘resign‘ could be heard from the crowd and there were many placards saying the same thing, as well as sticking up for Italy’s judiciary – which Berlusconi loves to hate.

Photographs of the huge scale of the protest and of the number of Italians who attended the demonstrations can be seen here:
“Se non ora quando” / Le foto dall’alto – If not now, when? Photos from on High – from La Repubblica.

More photographs from galleries on La Repubblica of the If not Now, When? anti-Berlusconi protests around the word.

Berlusconi has claimed he was the best Italian prime minister in 150 years, but the Italians who turned out today would not agree with this self-assertion, I’m sure.

Here’s a very brief video of the protest in Milan I shot with my iPhone:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X6ZEW8Nvy0[/youtube]

The mass protest was impressive in its scale, and was a very good natured demonstration. And it was in stark contrast to the whole one hundred and fifty Berlusconi supporters who turned up to protest against Italy’s judiciary at Milan’s main court complex last week.

Anti-Berlusconi protest in Milan, Italy
Anti-Berlusconi protest in Milan, Italy

Today’s protests have caught the eye of the BBC and the CNN, but reporting on Italy’s main television news channels is likely to be scant – with the exception of the RAI 3 and 7 channels which are not under the thumb of Mr Berlusconi. Italians can also be sure that Berlusconi will play down the protests using his media weight to help him.

UPDATE: Coverage of today’s protests by RAI news services

I watched each of Italy’s RAI public television news programmes this evening. Here’s a brief summary of the coverage of today’s Italy-wide protests:

  • 7:00 TG3 news on RAI 3 channel – around 10 minutes of coverage of anti-Berlusconi protests around Italy with footage from Rome and Milan. Coverage was spoiled a little I felt by the ‘editorial’ comment on the significance of the events by the TG3 newscaster, Bianca Berlinguer. RAI 3 and TG3 news are not liked by the Berlusconi crowd because the channel and news are held to be run by ‘communists’. Somehow though, RAI 3 has managed to escape total control by Berlusconi – unlike the other two evening news programmes.
  • 8:00pm TG1 news on RAI 1 channel – very scant coverage (maybe 60 seconds), which virtually brushed aside the protests – this was predicable as this news service is in the hands of someone who appears to tailor editorial decisions to the wish of Berlusconi.
  • 8:30 TG2 news on RAI 2 channel – slightly better coverage – but still avoided the significance of the event, in my opinion. The TG2 channel does not pander so much to Berlusconi, but the quality of reporting seems to be suffering – how about an announcement that ‘Summer is coming, so it’s time to think about plastic surgery’ followed by an item which was longer than the protest coverage. Just to give you some idea.
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Stop reading, start speaking

Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.

End of update.

Gagging Unfriendly Talk Shows

Moves are also afoot to restrict what television in Italy talk shows can talk about in an attempt to reduce negative publicity for Berlusconi.

Placard at Anti-Berlusconi Protest in Milan - ask an Italian for a translation.
Placard at Anti-Berlusconi Protest in Milan - ask an Italian for a translation.

UPDATE: Berlusconi’s Reaction to the Prostests

As reported in today’s edition of La Repubblica, Berlusconi stated that the protests were a “rebellious mobilisation” in support of legal proceedings against him. I think he may have used the word “shameful” too. In short, he is not too happy.

Ex-opposition leader Romano Prodi, on the other hand, stated that the protests signified the re-awakening of Italy. Prodi attended the protest in Milan.

End of Update.

Crucial Week for Silvio Berlusconi Ahead

This week, a decision is expected on whether to send Berlusconi for a fast track trial (The decision has now been taken: Berlusconi: RubyGate Trial Set for 6th April).

Berlusconi, who maintains his innocence, will be playing his ‘commie’ conspiracy card very heavily in an attempt to keep himself at the head of Italy’s government. Meanwhile, ex-Berlusconi ally Fini stated that he would resign, if Berlusconi would go too – and allow national elections to be called.

Italy’s President Napolitano, in a counter to claims from Berlusconi that Italy’s judiciary is ‘subversive’, stated that there is nothing wrong with Italy’s court system and that fair trials are guaranteed – this note of support for Italy’s judges and prosecutors will not please Berlusconi who’d like to ‘reform’ Italy’ legal system so he can control it. Oddly enough, the EU has stayed silent on this somewhat obvious threat to human rights in corruption and organised crime ridden Italy.

The war between Berlusconi, Italy’s judiciary and disgruntled white scarf wearing Italian women rages on.

All photographs and video by Alex Roe.

Click to read more from the Italy News section on BlogfromItaly.com

Bianca Berlinguer

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