Austerity carnival pokes fun at Italy’s elections



Agence France Presse

Published — Saturday 2 February 2013

Last update 1 February 2013 10:45 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Carnival workers in central Italy dusted off their Silvio Berlusconi masks and put the finishing touches to an anti-austerity float as the resort town of Viareggio prepared for its annual political satire parades just ahead of next month’s general election.
The Viareggio carnival has specialized in sending up Italy’s famously bickering and often larger-than-life politicians for 140 years and this year’s anniversary edition will be no different.
“It targets politicians, both Italian and international,” carnival head Alessandro Santini told AFP in an office on the seafront festooned with posters from carnivals of yesteryear.
The poster for this year sets the tone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi all dressed up as Catholic cardinals. The “Carnival Citadel,” a group of warehouses on the edge of this town of 63,000 inhabitants, is abuzz with painters preparing papier-mache floats that can be as high as 28 meters (over 90 feet).
One float shows Monti as a newly-wed with President Giorgio Napolitano, who appointed the current prime minister to save Italy from bankruptcy in 2011.
Monti is carrying a divorce certificate — a reference to his resignation last month.
“When we came up with the idea for this float in May we did not know how long the government would last but we knew it would not be long,” said Massimo Breschi, an artist with flowing curly hair.
Berlusconi suddenly withdrew his People of Freedom party’s support for economics professor Monti last month, triggering early elections on February 24-25.
The float also features center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani — the favorite in the polls — as a groom being courted by his potential allies.
“Everyone wants to marry Bersani!” Breschi joked.
Another puppet is of Beppe Grillo, a former comedian and blogger set to win dozens of seats in parliament with his populist Five Star Movement, who is depicted as a devil with horns.
Grillo “will be the party-crasher,” Breschi said.
Santini said the satire was all in good humor and politicians would be well advised to take it in their stride or risk incurring further mockery. “Politicians are on almost all the floats, where the satire is strong and biting,” he said.
“If a politician is smart and intelligent, he accepts it and understands it is important to be on the floats. If he is angry, then he is mocked even more.”
The festival kicks off on February 3 and had been due to hold its last parade on February 24 — the date picked for the general election.
“We found ourselves right in the middle of the election campaign this year. We suddenly had to postpone the last parade to March 3,” Santini said. The carnival ends with one final parade along the 2.4-kilometer route and an award ceremony.
Twenty-eight private companies are each assigned a budget of 130,000 euros to make the floats.
The total budget of the carnival is 4.4 million euros and organizers are expecting a total of around one million visitors this year.
Most carnival-goers are Italians but tourists are expected from further afield too, including from Britain, Germany, Japan and the United States.

The festival moves with the times too — as shown by the giant papier-mache puppet of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in a Napoleonic tricorn hat that lies discarded in the corner of one hangar.
The European debt crisis is also a major feature this year — although always with a satirical bent.

Corinne Roger and Gilbert Lebigre, two French people living in Viareggio, have named a float with a group of puppets waving around outsize musical instruments the “Fuck the Austerity Jazz Band.”
“It’s a bit of a shout, not of despair, but to say we’ve had enough,” Roger said. “We’re saying no to words without meaning, now we want music.
“Let’s pick ourselves up again, let’s not get ourselves drowsy with beautiful words. People need a bit more energy and positivity.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Kingdom and New Zealand have signed an air services agreement to set a comprehensive regulatory framework for air transport, operating on a safe and organized basis.The deal was signed at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) he...
RIYADH: Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa has called on teachers, educators and other officials of his ministry to work hard for the common goal of producing quality graduates. “I urge you to do your level best in transmitting knowledge to the student...
AL-AHSA: Uncoordinated production resources, lack of risk planning, evaluation, non-study of similar projects and poor planning are among the reasons for failure of projects, an expert has said.“Total quality management (TQM) is an integrated scienti...
JEDDAH: The Specialized Criminal Court has issued its verdict against two Saudis for terrorism-related offenses and for supporting extremist groups, a local daily has reported.The court issued a prison sentence of ten and a half years to the first de...
RIYADH: The second phase of the operation on a Polish child for a genetic heart disease was successfully performed at the King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC) of the National Guard Health Affairs on Wednesday. On a directive from Custodian of the Two H...
JEDDAH: A new breast cancer treatment improves survival rates by an average 20 percent, with life expectancy lengthened by 29.9 months.This is according to Ahmed Al-Wabari, breast oncology consultant at King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam, who ou...
RIYADH: The projects of Saudi students at the Technical Trainers College (TTC) is being showcased at the German pavilion in the 30th Janadriyah Festival. With the slogan “Welcome to Your Future”, the TTC is participating in the festival with Germany...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor has urged firms to immediately start implementing the 10th phase of the Wage Protection System before it becomes mandatory on March 31.Mohammed Al-Faleh, assistant undersecretary for inspection and development of the wor...
RIYADH: As many as 104 antique items that have come from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany, have gone on display at the National Museum here. The exhibition coincides the Janadriyah festival for heritage and culture.According to local media, the...
RIYADH: A visiting Kuwaiti delegation has praised Saudi Arabia for collecting and preserving various heritage items at the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh.The delegation, led by Kuwait’s Education Minister Bader Al-Essa, was given a tour...
RIYADH: Road security forces in Madinah apprehended two Asian expats who were caught in possession of a huge amount of money totaling SR1.6 million and talismans.“The two Asians were riding in a Japanese-made car when they were stopped at the Yanbu-...
RIYADH: Good news for the 25,000 British expatriates in the Kingdom, who will get their franchise to participate in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.In an announcement on Thursday, the British Embassy here said that the Uni...
JEDDAH: Jeddah Municipality, with cooperation of the Check Safety First British company, launched an award of excellence for services in restaurants under the name E-Cristal to support the establishment of best services in restaurants and eatery shop...
JEDDAH: Well-known Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan married Safa Baig, an Indian woman, who was born in Jeddah and raised here by her Hyderabadi parents.The marriage was solemnized at a simple ceremony at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Wednesday. Only a...
RIYADH: The Ministries of Interior and Islamic Affairs are considering appointing security guards at all the mosques in the Kingdom where Friday prayers are held.The move comes as a precautionary and regulatory measure to protect the mosques from at...

Stay Connected

Facebook