Friday, 8 February 2013

Censoring the Media During the Italian Elections

 The law on political polling states:

In the 15 days prior to the vote it is forbidden to publish [or to make public] or, by any means, spread the results of polling on the outcome of the elections and on the political leanings and voting intentions of the electors, even if such polls have been taken in a period previous to the prohibition.*

That's very clear.  Couldn't be clearer.  No polling to be published on voting intentions or political stance, not even old polls.  Not no further polling at all, note.  No polling to be published.  But publication is going to occur, despite the law.  Publication is to be restricted. So called 'private'  polling and its results will be made available to party leaders and apparatchiks in the greatest of detail.  Polls will be undertaken and published like there's no tomorrow -  until there is no tomorrow and we have arrived at 24 February.  Because what this law is aiming for is censorship.  Censorship of polling information to all the voters and its reservation to those who pay for it and only too often consider themselves above the law.

Be that as it may, political polling during this election has displayed so many technical defects that it's best, probably, to consider trends.  Universally the trends display a steady decline of the Democratic Party and, most clearly, a decline in any coalition grouping or party besmirched by the suggestion that it might ally with a minority Democratic Party after the elections.  Monti and the associated coalition for the Chamber of Deputies - down;  Ingroia and Civic Revolution - down;  Vendola's SEL (already in formal coalition with the Democratic Party since the great push to defeat Matteo Renzi's centrist leadership in the Democratic Party) - down.  Trending steadily up are the People of Freedom coalition (despite Berlusca, or perhaps because of his political presence - and presence of mind- during the campaign) and his political common sense; trending up extraordinarily fast  and now in third position, Beppe Grillo and the Five Star anti-political elites movement.

At the start of this (blessedly short) campaign Comrade Bersani made a spectacularly stupid claim (something he has continued to do over the weeks with remarkable staying power).  He pointed to an over 40% lead for his ill-gotten Party and said

"I am the hare, so far in front as to be  uncatchable."  He did, he really did.  Angels  were saucer-eyed. 

For there is one other group of voters trending upwards after beginning to decline last week - the undeclared who are once again more than a third of the electorate, having fallen to a quarter.  We will vote; historically Italians do, in the end, despite saying they won't.  The turnout is a known, with  a tortoise-shaped  unknown of outcome-changing size, and a fortnight to go.

* “Nei quindici giorni precedenti la data delle votazioni è vietato rendere pubblici o, comunque, diffondere i risultati di sondaggi demoscopici sull’esito delle elezioni e sugli orientamenti politici e di voto degli elettori, anche se tali sondaggi sono stati effettuati in un periodo precedente a quello del divieto”.


Caronte said...

The purpose of the prohibition might be less sinister than you suggest. Namely, that of curbing tactical voting, encouraging voters to express their TRUE preference for the party they actually like, instead of choosing the party most likely to damage the one they dislike.

And party leaders might benefit from their privileged information only by announcing populist policies or unholy prospective alliances, which they will do unashamedly regardless.

cuffleyburgers said...

The problem is that the whole campaign by all parties seems to be based on name calling and boasting about polling numbers.

The only policies I have heard being proposed are the eminently sensible ones by Berlusconi of handng back the hated IMU and a general condono edilizio, to me a damn' fin e idea even though doubtless he will be prime beneficiary as he always has been of his policies.

The only halfway decent leader I've heard has been Oscar Gianino but stranded on 2% no one is going to vote for him.

Still it'll be good to see Monti getting a licking, it is fun to see the vaffanculo party doing so well (even if their "programme" is absolutely crap).

Poor poor (and getting poorer) Italy.

And I think it really does show up the absolute shitness of Proportional Representation

Sackerson said...

I think the distinctive Italian attitude to prohibitions and orders generally is typified by the old multilingual railway instructions re not leaning out of windows:

Sackerson said...

P.S. The last one is in English, but I'll bet my last dollar it is not from England, where it was always "Do not lean out of the window."

There's a kind of Mason-Dixon line running through Europe, wouldn't you agree?

Jeff Wood said...

Carissima, a request.

Can you give us a short guide to the electoral system, and these Lists which have just gone up on the billboards? My Italian is nowhere near enough up to following what is going on, and some of your other readers may be in worse case.

I just read an item on American Thinker. The writers clearly believe that Beppe Grillo is an anti-semitic fascist:

hatfield girl said...

S, the link doesn't work, sorry. And sorry again but I'm too unsure of the Mason Dixon Line ( and US history to be able to think of it in European terms. Not a lot of slaves in Europe since 1945. Might you fill out the notion?

hatfield girl said...

Cuffley, proportional representation alla italiana isn't called il porcellum for nothing is it. What a truly manipulative voting system.

No wonder so many of us can't say who we're voting for. We may never succeed in working it out. Hence your problem, Jeff. I haven't worked out the optimum tactical vote yet, have you? Even setting the desired outcome criteria is a shifting sands.

Tactical voting is a valid and most important tool of democracy, C. No English person would be without it. Why are we being denied the polling data?

Sackerson said...

M/D: basically, a divide. The train signs say in 3 languages, don't lean out of the window; but the Italian one says "E pericoloso sporgersi," i.e. we wouldn't dream of presuming to tell you what to do but we think it our duty to advise.