Justice, Politics, Privacy and the Dignity of Women: an Update on Italy

Carme Colomina (Barcelona Institute of International Affairs)
Anselma Dell’Olio (freelance journalist)
Tijana Mamula (JCU Professor of Communications)
Gianfranco Pasquino (Professor of Political Science at the University of Bologna)
Steven Van Hecke (Department of Political Science, University of Antwerp)

On Wednesday, April 13th the Aula Magna hosted the final Guarini Institute event of an intense Spring semester. The conference started at 6.30pm, and Professor Argentieri took the podium to introduce the topic and the guest speakers. He talked about Berlusconi’s style, particularly during international meetings, addressing the issue of how his manners affect the reputation of Italians around the world.

The floor was then left to Professor Gray, who briefly discussed the few videos that the audience was about to be shown. The five short clips were all about Berlusconi’s reputation abroad, and showed how media from other countries portray the Italian prime Minister. Following the multimedia introduction, Professor Argentieri began by asking each speaker on the panel a question.

Professor Gianfranco Pasquino

Professor Gianfranco Pasquino

The first question was for Professor Pasquino, who was asked to address the problematic relationship that binds politics and justice in Italy. In his answer he stressed that the major issue in Italy is the corruption that pollutes both the political and the social sphere.

Anselma Dell’Olio spoke about the way Italy is seen in the United States, in light of the latest scandals involving Berlusconi. She openly said that the Prime Minister’s image is pretty much the same everywhere. This is because usually journalists fail or neglect to get the other side of the story. “Writing about Berlusconi is easy, there is always so much to say”. In a materialistic society which revolves around money, it seems like selling copies is a higher priority than finding out the truth, or trying to get the full picture of what’s going on in Italy right now. In her conclusion she pointed out that the two major anomalies in Italian politics are not only Berlusconi and his popularity, but also the lack of a real, strong opposition.

The third panelist to speak was Carme Colomina from Spain. She said that there are certain similarities in the way Spanish and Italian people view politics. The first thing in common is that both languages have one word only for “politics” and “policies”. This linguistic issue, according to her, is one of the reasons why the two spheres have somehow merged, becoming one blurry concept for the Italian people. She continued by saying that Spanish people do not understand the current political situation in Italy, and can’t figure out why Berlusconi is still in power. The truth is that the Spanish culture doesn’t thrive on political gossip, and the quality and truthfulness of the news in the media is relatively low, according to Colomina. Moreover, recently Berlusconi acquired the rights of the most important Spanish left wing newspaper, a strategic move to preserve/save his popularity in Spain.

Steven Van Hecke gave a brief history of Berlusconi’s party. From “il Popolo delle Libertà” to the European People Party (EPP), Van Hecke illustrated how Berlusconi managed to get where he is right now, presenting interesting anecdotes to make the audience better understand the Italian Prime Minister’s political strategy. Professor Tijana Mamula then discussed the image of women on Italian TV. According to Prof. Mamula, Italian TV degrades women perhaps even more than in the United States. The main difference between the two cultures is that in Italy the degradation of women is more open, and when it comes to Berlusconi’s questionable behaviour the general public often “justifies” him because – supposedly – “he’s only doing what everyone else is doing, just like Clinton”. The Italian media and the people, according to Prof. Mamula, are guilty of being perhaps “too” open minded, which may eventually result in a regressive mentality. The issue in Italy is the dichotomy between hypocrisy and honesty.