beppe_grilloSilvio_BerlusconiI live in Italy but am not an Italian citizen. Though I was unable to vote in the general election, I do obviously have a vested interest in the result.

I am writing this post before all the votes have been counted but already a number of things are clear.

The number of people who still view Berlusconi as a legitimate leader remains frighteningly high. To my mind, this indicates a level of ignorance that difficult to understand. With large parts of his support coming from the South, it shows that the Mafiosi are also still on his side.

mario-montiIn marked contrast, the support for Mario Monti (‘the professor’) is negligible and a reflection of a lacklustre campaign in which he has looked like a reluctant candidate who dreams of going back to a steady office job.

Whatever the final result, comedian Beppe Grillo is the true winner. His Movimento 5 Stelle (5 star) party has changed the face of Italian politics and has achieved an astonishing level of support, mainly with younger disillusioned electorate. This he has achieved through his ‘Tsunami Tour’ of Italian cities alongside an active presence on Twitter and his own website. It’s a combination of back to basics campaigning with technological backing which has meant that he has been able to largely bypass and pour vitriol on the media circus that, up till now, has seemed an inevitable part of modern politics.

Grillo’s radical programme is exemplified by the fact that part of his manifesto is that women should be given greater power to correct the shambles that generations of male politicians have created. Quite how he can put such policies into practice remains an open question and probably he is counting on being a vocal voice of the opposition rather than being in power himself.

Grillo and Berlusconi are both seasoned populists and it’s very doubtful that either will be able to get Italy out of the mess it’s in but if the choice ends up being between an anarchic comedian and a lying, cheating criminal, I know who I’d rather have running the country!