Postcard from Italy - From D'Alema to Vaffa

A view of the pretty Ligurian fishing village of Vaffa (sometimes known as Camogli)

“Unity in Diversity” is the EU’s motto, although not of course officially. As it is true that to understand the EU we must at least occasionally look at what’s going on outside our Brussels Bubble, we thought we’d venture out into the light and commence our virtual Grand Tour of what’s going on out there in Member State land. This being the summer, as a first stop we followed the rest of Brussels and headed south to warmer climes in Italy.

First up, Corriere della Sera notes Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema’s venture into Second Life on July 6 on the island of Fondazione Italianieuropei. Unfortunately, D’Alema doesn’t seem to have quite got it, as he appeared only in pre-recorded video clip on the subject of biofuels rather than in virtual real life. No interaction and no chance to meet D’Alema in person, reports Corriere. All this is a pity, as the video was from a conference held in the European Parliament in Brussels a couple of weeks back on biofuels, where due to the fact that you needed an invite to attend you also would have struggled to meet D’Alema in the flesh.

Happily, we found a comedian who is using the internet for altogether more suitable purpose. Beppe Grillo is a controversial figure who used to appear on Italian TV despite for all intent and purposes appearing to be the opposite of female and attractive. (We are assured by Italians that it was his outspoken political views rather than his gender or perceived lack of beauty that got him removed from TV). He now uses his mulitlingual blog to take Italian politicians to task. He wants to gather the requisite number of signatures (50,000) to spark proposal for a popular law that would (1) prevent citizens that are convicted of a criminal offence standing for office (2) limit Parliamentarians to 2 terms in office (3) ensure that party election lists on an open rather than closed basis.

Beppe’s cunning plan involves shouting a large go forth and multiple on “Vaffa-Day“, 8 September , when supporters will be encouraged to go out onto the streets of Italy and tell their political elite to do exactly that by collecting signatures. In the run up to the event, supporters can join like minded people on MeetUp and submit supportive photos by

Fear not Brussels based Italians, there is a Brussels supporters group on MeetUp where you can join around 80 other exiled Beppe supporters. Beppe has over 75,000 people already signed up online, which apparently means he has already achieved the requisite number to put his proposal to Parliament. (Thanks to readers of this blog for pointing out that Beppe’s challenge is not that of a referendum, which requires a larger number of signatories). We shall watch with interest.


The summer may be over but Italy continues to shout Vaffa « Public Affairs 2.0
September 18, 2007 | 2:55 PM

[...] In the early summer we mentioned Italian comic turned online political activist Beppe Grillo and his efforts to gather the signatures needed to introduce a popular law in Italy. From all the attention he has been getting in recent days in the Italian media, it seems Beppe is causing a few sleepless nights for the elected politicians as he continues his campaign to rock the political establishment of the country. Especially as it has been reported that his V-day campaign netted around 300,000 signatories. [...]