UPDATE: 1 May, 2013
Italy has just sworn in a new government. Democratic Party deputy leader (PD), Enrico Letta, is the prime minister heading up a 'grand coalition' including Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party (PDL).
Beppe Grillo, our favourite 'comedian in a campervan' did incredibly well with his motorhome-based campaigning and his Five Star Movement is now the third strongest force to emerge from the Italian election. The Five Star Movement has refused to take part in a coalition with the two main parties.
BLOG: 22 March, 2013
ONE MAN IN A MOTORHOME MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN POLITICS
That’s the shock revelation following Italy’s deadlocked election last month. No party there has a majority in parliament, and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano is in talks with other leaders to work out how to form a government.
Remember how long Cameron and Clegg kept us waiting as they brokered the Coalition deal after our last election? We thought we had problems, but in Italy, it seems that political power may lie in the hands of a comedian in a campervan!
The front-runner is the centre-left, cigar-smoking former communist Pier Luigi Bersani, 61, who won a majority in the lower house but not in the Senate. Voters find him a bit boring and he can’t govern without the support of one of the other parties.
But which joker will he choose?
SILVIO THE PLAYBOY
On the centre-right, is the second biggest party, led by that notorious billionaire playboy, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, 76. He was forced to resign, after colourful financial and sex scandals, in November 2011 and is fighting both his conviction for tax evasion and a separate sex case. Astonishingly, he’s still on the political scene.
CAMPER VAN COMEDIAN TO THE RESCUE?
After travelling 7,000 miles on his campaign trail tour of Italy in a rented campervan, comedian Beppe Grillo, 64, now holds the balance of power. He’s neither right- or left-wing, and leads the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. As he toured the regions he saw every piazza as a theatre for his performance.
What a performance it was, too. In Milan, he drew a crowd of 30,000 people to the Gothic cathedral square and whipped up a fury of excitement with his rants. ‘My battle cry to the politicians is to surrender. You have consumed the entire country, the lives of thousands of people. Now you must go home.’ The crowd screamed in response: ‘Thieves! Thieves!’ (Send in the Clowns: www.thedailybeast.com)
After 77 rallies, Beppe Grillo's anti-corruption, anti-eurozone tirade goes down well in Italy and he’s busily exposing politicians with criminal records on his blog as well. We think the motorhome has played a key role in changing democracy, too!
In a BBC interview Beppe Grillo said, ‘It is a tremendous revolution. When our people come in, there will be no more theft. No more stealing. Honesty will come back into fashion.’
He used to be funny, but he’s deadly serious now: ‘Now our problem is the emergency... emergency! People are dying. People aren't eating. They are getting their food from charities and sleeping in their cars. It is incredible. A thousand businesses are closing every day. Every day. Every day. And our strength, manufacturing, Made in Italy, is dead.’
To put it mildly, he thinks that governments spend money on the wrong things. ‘We spend 1bn euros (£863m; $1.3bn)on Afghanistan. Peace. It is not peace. They change the words. They say it is a peace mission. It is war.’ BBC TV interview
The campervan campaign trail has worked so well for Beppe Grillo that the party he leads – Five Star Movement – has just formally asked President Giorgio Napolitano for a mandate to form a new government. They won 25% of the vote in Italy’s elections last month and now hold the balance of power.
Not bad for a man in a motorhome.
COULD OUR MINISTERS WIN HEARTS IN A MOTORHOME?
UK politicians beware – some of the voters are getting restive here, too, as their income plummets in real terms year-on-year. Imagine if a comedian – maybe Billy Connolly or Lenny Henry – suddenly started to do what Beppe Grille has done? They’re already popular… pop one of them in a campervan and I think they could have a fantastic rant and galvanise the protest vote here... if they wanted to!
JUST A CHEEKY WORD OF ADVICE
So… Dear Nick Clegg and David Cameron, if you find yourselves slipping in the polls… why not tour Britain in a motorhome to show you’re in touch with ordinary folk? Canvass votes, hold rallies, give rousing speeches and show that you care about us!
You needn’t even suffer any hardship: motorhomes are very well-appointed and you can have it built to suit your needs, thanks to the options lists.
If you need some advice on choosing a motorhome for your campaign trail, we can help. Buy the magazine to see the latest models, reviewed and rated. Start with the Buyer’s Guide, with its full explanation of floorplans and what kinds of ‘vans are available. Our May issue even has an advice piece for anyone new to motorhomes – whether they’re on the world stage, or not.
A luxurious German or Italian A-class tag-axle motorhome would cause a stir, but if you want to appear patriotic and down-to-earth, we suggest you buy British and support one of our excellent home-grown manufacturers, Swift, Auto-Sleeper, Elddis, Bailey, Lunar, Vanmaster-Bentley… there are some great choices and they'll offer plenty of luxury.
We can even suggest campsites you can use in – or very near - your constituency. The Top 100 Sites Guide comes with the May 2013 issue. You’ll meet some lovely people in the washrooms, bars and restaurants, too. You’ll love it – and you’ll get a chance to ask what people really think about the state of the nation.
USE THAT SECOND HOME ALLOWANCE...
Read our buyer’s guides online and in the latest issue of Practical Motorhome and you’ll see that you can get the perfect campaign trail wagon for a lot less than a second home.
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
If you're still a bit wary, just hire a motorhome for a trip to try out the lifestyle. There are some great hire firms who will look after you.
Don’t mention it, Nick, David.... We love to help: it’s what we do best!
Practical Motorhome magazine
22 March, 2013
Reviews - lots of articles on specific motorhomes
General advice on buying a campervan or motorhome
Buying an older VW campervan: pitfalls to avoid
Which brands of motorhomes are built to last? How your votes add up to great customer satisfaction scores for these manufacturers...
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