For the second time in two years Italian voters went to the polls in a general election whose results they expect will not result in any change in their lives nor of the economy of their nation. In many polling stations there was a dramatic drop in the number of people casing ballots due to a widespread disillusionment with the entire political process of their country. In a rather symbolic act, a voter in the city of Sorrento was arrested because he took the oversize ballot paper, tore it into small pieces and ate it as he said: “All the politicians disgust me, I don’t feel represented by anyone.” He was charged with destorying election materials.
Right wing political leader Silvo Berlusconi, Italy’s richest person, has been blamed by many for failing to reform the nation when he did have a large parlimentary majority a few years ago and is now regarded as another political hack whose only interest is power, not significant economic or social change. His major opponent is center-left Walter Veltroni, the former mayor of Rome who has tried depicting himself as someone who will not get into bickering and fighting over power. Most political observers regard the race as tight, but also note none of the candidates really wants to address key issues such as the low rate of economic development and the growing social crisis arising from poverty and increased immigration.
As a voter told reporters, “Both Berlusconi and Prodi were elected with the hope tht they would do something to turn the country aroound, but where do we go from there? It’s a mess.”