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Monday 29 March 2010

Naples: Election Time

While we in the UK wait on Pa Broon to fire the starting gun for our own General Election, Italy has been holding nationwide Regional Elections, the voting finishing today. In Naples, the most obvious sign of the upcoming contest, and a significant contributor to the city’s street rubbish, has been the customary poster blitz.

And the rules governing poster advertising, to outsiders at least, seem to be that there aren’t any rules. Across the city, poster boards abound, each hoarding plastered with layer upon layer of them, apparently fifteen to twenty deep. No one party, or coalition – this election is dominated by coalitions built around the PdL (”People of Freedom”) of “Duce” Berlusconi and the PD (Democratic Party) of Pierluigi Bersani – enjoys a monopoly on their use.

Here’s how it works: one of the two main protagonists gets its posters up on as many boards as they can manage in a day. Those posters may remain on view for a whole day, maybe even two. Then the other coalition deploy their posters over the top of those of their opposition. This, too, remains on view for a short period before the process is repeated. Hence the poster boards creaking under the increasing weight as more layers are added.

And, as not all the posters stick – last Monday afternoon, under steady rain, would not have given good conditions for poster longevity – many end up on the ground, pulped underfoot and otherwise giving the overstretched refuse collectors another headache they could do without.

So what of the public enthusiasm for these elections? Well, the last regionals, back in 2005, yielded a turnout of 67.7% in Campania, the region around Naples. That’s better than the UK’s 2005 General Election, with its miserable 61.3%, and way ahead of any local election here. But corruption is supposed to be turning off the voters, and has been endemic around Naples for decades.

Go figure that one out.

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