Showbizzers Face-Off In Italo Elections

Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo

Silvio Berlusconi, Beppe Grillo Emerge in Deadlocked Vote

ROME — Italians awoke to the prospect of political deadlock Tuesday after a national vote in which two very different showbizzers emerged as winners: TV mogul Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo, a standup comic with an anti-establishment platform propagated via social media and live appearances in the country’s piazzas.
While neither man won the elections, both bested pollster predictions and Grillo’s web-driven Five Star movement came from nowhere to become the biggest single party in the lower house with 25% of the vote and 23% in the upper house.
Berlusconi, the former prime minister who was considered politically defunct until recently, staged a stunning comeback thanks to a TV blitz in which he promised practically impossible tax cuts.
Berlusconi’s center-right coalition has 29% of the lower house and 30% of the upper house, about one percentage point less than the center-left bloc of Pier Luigi Bersani, which is not expected to have sufficient parliamentary seats in the upper house to govern alone.
On Monday, as the first electoral results came in, shares in Berlusconi’s Mediaset rose as much as 10%. They were down Tuesday as Italy’s instability rattled markets.
But the broadcaster’s stock price has gained about 60% since Berlusconi threw his hat back in the ring late last year, underscoring the impact of his political influence on his company’s balance sheet.
Grillo ruled ratings on pubcaster RAI until the mid-1980s when he was banned from TV for cracking a joke about Socialist prime minister Bettino Craxi being a thief.
His newfound success is driven by tirades on his blog against political and corporate corruption and a pro clean energy and free Internet campaign. Top of Grillo’s agenda is a conflict of interest law that would force Berlusconi to either put Mediaset in a blind trust or leave politics.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety