Readers have been in touch over the past few days to express concern at the result of Italy’s elections, with many asking how Italian voters could hand a landslide victory to Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia or FDI) a far-right party with roots in the post-fascist movement.
“I’m trying to understand why most voters in Italy would be in favour of this party? Has nothing been learned from history?” asked one Italian-American reader in the US.
But, though it might not seem like it from some newspaper headlines, or even from the election results at first glance, the majority of voters did not actually choose Meloni’s party – and a large number of people in Italy didn’t vote at all.
Political analysts also say there hasn’t really been any evidence of the “sharp turn to the right” described in many international media reports. The views of voters in Italy overall aren’t necessarily shifting to the right or getting more extreme: Meloni has however been very successful in uniting the existing right-wing vote.
Her strong right-wing alliance, the lack of any credible opposition, and an electoral system that favours coalitions all worked in Meloni’s favour. Here’s a brief look at what this means:
FdI took the right-wing vote from other parties
While it may look a lot like Italy has taken a sharp turn to the right – particularly from a glance at these overwhelmingly blue maps – political analysts say strong support for the right in Italy has long been at around the same level, but was previously split.
As Dr Daniele Albertazzi, Politics professor at the University of Birmingham, put it in his analysis: “Brothers of Italy has attracted negligible support from outside the right.”
Data shows Meloni likely drew much of her recent surge in support from Italy’s other right-wing parties, particularly the League and small hard-right parties, while right-leaning supporters of Italy’s populist Five Star Movement likely also voted for the right-wing coalition this time.
Even those voters coming from M5S (not huge amount) are likely to be from its right flank (we know from past studies there were many within M5S. You can think of them as voters M5S BORROWED from the right – for as long as they were credible in their eyes).
— Daniele Albertazzi (@DrAlbertazziUK) September 27, 2022
FdI’s success came from it being the biggest party in a strong right-wing coalition able to appeal to voters all the way from the more moderate centre-right to the extreme right.
Many moderate voters said they were giving Meloni a chance because other party leaders were almost all familiar faces who’ve already had a shot at running the country – Enrico Letta, Giuseppe Conte, Matteo Renzi and Silvio Berlusconi have all previously served as prime minister at least once.
While Meloni has been involved in politics for many years, she was previously unknown to most of the electorate. Her profile has risen astronomically over the past 18 months after she chose to make FdI the only party in opposition to Mario Draghi’s broad ‘national unity’ government, attracting the protest vote (which last time went to the populist M5S and League) by presenting it as the only alternative to the status quo.
Voter turnout was historically low
A poor turnout, particularly in the south, is also thought to have contributed to the election result.
Voter turnout fell to a low of around 64 percent, about nine points lower than the last elections in 2018, and the lowest-ever turnout at an Italian general election.
The rate of voter participation was markedly lower in southern regions, with the lowest turnout of all in the region of Calabria at 50.8 percent.
Meanwhile the highest turnout was recorded in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, both at around 70 percent. This area happens to be the heartland of hard-right parties including Brothers of Italy and the League (previously called the Northern League).
— YouTrend (@you_trend) September 25, 2022
Around one in four of those who voted in Sunday’s election backed Meloni’s Brothers of Italy.
At the last elections in 2018 the south of Italy voted overwhelmingly for the Five Star Movement, which promised to tackle poverty, inequality, and other issues primarily affecting southern regions while railing against the political establishment.
But the party seemingly failed to impress once it got into government, and has since lost a lot of support. It also chose to run alone rather than allying with any other parties, which put it at a disadvantage.
Italy’s electoral system favours coalitions
The centre-left’s complete failure to form a strong coalition in order to fight the election is also thought to have contributed to the right’s landslide win.
Such alliances are paramount in Italy due to the way the electoral system works. About 37 percent of seats in both houses of parliament are allocated on a first-past-the-post basis in single-member constituencies, and this works to the advantage of parties who run as part of coalitions. (You can find an explanation of how Italy’s particularly complicated hybrid voting system works here.)
Disastrous effect of Italian left failing to form an alliance reflected in number of FPTP seats won:
Chamber of Deputies
Fratelli d’Italia-Lega-Forza Italia 121
Movimento Cinque Stelle 10
Südtiroler Volkspartei 2
Union Valdôtaine 1
Sicilia Vera 1 >>cont.
— Nicholas Whithorn (@NickWhithorn) September 27, 2022
As a result, the right-wing bloc with 44 percent of the vote was able to take more seats in parliament than all the centre and centre-left parties on 49 percent, basically because of the fact it joined together and they didn’t.
Unko Museum: Tokyo opens first poop museum to explore a taboo topic among Japanese youth | Culture
Among the many synonyms for excrement that exist in the Japanese language, the founders of the Tokyo Unko Museum chose the most candid one, unko, to name an irreverent space designed for female Instagram users. “My goal was for poop to stop being a taboo subject for young girls,” explains its creator, Masaru Kobayashi.
With Japanese influencers in mind, Kobayashi filled the museum’s rooms with toilets and poop-shaped pieces in shades of turquoise, fuchsia and lemon yellow. The colors follow the palette of the Japanese kawaii aesthetic, which combines the cutesy and the grotesque. Kobayashi explains that, far from being a cultural fad, kawaii is a natural extension of traditional Japanese culture. “At the pinnacle of world-famous kawaii culture is poop, a fragile material that disappears down the drain shortly after being brought into this world,” reads a sign at the museum entrance.
To revive the scatological enthusiasm of childhood, visitors are welcomed into a room equipped with nine colorful toilets, whose arrangement evokes the communal toilets of ancient Rome. A museum guide invites them to sit down, clench their fists and, after counting one-two-three, imagine that they are releasing a symbolic dump. When they get up, they find in their respective receptacles pieces of plastic poop, which resemble the poop emoji in striking pastel colors.
There are neon signs with the word poop written in 16 languages. A tearoom serves huge cakes topped with golden feces. Another room features colorful droppings that move when stroked like furry animals. Video games include flying poops. On small toilet-shaped blackboards hung on the wall, visitors are invited to make their own poop drawings.
Although there is a Japanese term for museum, Kobayashi chose the English “museum” to describe a thematic venue whose sole function is to create entertaining environments. Instagram is full of photographs of absurd and witty scenes from the exhibits: couples play-acting, sitting on separate toilets, young parents with blue poop on their heads, or the typical tourist photo featuring a huge illuminated poop. Kobayashi confesses that at first he feared that the unusual concept would be rejected. He felt better when older people started to visit, many of whom saw a generational change in the fact that young girls were openly talking about poop.
In the past three years, Kobayashi has created six such museums across Japan. He has received invitations to open another in Singapore and is in talks with several Asian countries where the subject of human poop lacks the taboo it has historically had in the West.
Classics authors in Japanese literature, such as Natsume Soseki, coined memorable phrases about poop’s “physiological pleasures,” and Junichiro Tanizaki devoted a long passage from his well-known essay Praise of the Shadow to the traditional toilet set in the middle of a garden, which is where “poets of all times have found abundant material for their haikus.”
Many Japanese children learn to write the complicated characters of their language with a series of popular books called Poop Exercises, which contain more than 3,000 humorous phrases related to the subject. For 17 years, Toto, which manufactures high-tech toilets, has held a poetry contest inspired by the subject in the senryu style, which consiss of a short humorous poem and is a relative of the haiku.
For Kobayashi, the evolution of the museum’s audience is apparent in their gradual migration from Instagram to TikTok. His intention, he says, is to continue creating playful spaces that provide moments of relaxation to contrast with typically Japanese solemnity. His next project is a railway museum where, unlike the rigorous Japanese rail schedules, no trains arrive on time.
The medieval monks who forged a nobleman’s will to appropriate a valuable church | Culture
The monks of the San Pedro de Cardeña monastery, in Spain’s Burgos province, had long had their eye on the Santa María de Cuevas de Provanco church in Segovia. But the substantial inheritance that the Count of Castile, Asur Fernández, and his wife Guntroda, bequeathed them made no mention of this Romanesque church surrounded by beautiful vineyards.
Such was the ambition of the monastery to own the church that two hundred years after the death of the Count, they forged the parchment on which his will was written. Their only mistake was an omission to remove all the copies of the authentic will. Now, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the University of Burgos have been able to demonstrate that the fraudulent document, considered until now to be the oldest of those kept in the Historical Nobility Archive in Toledo, is in fact a forgery from the 12th century, and not from the year 943, as it claims.
The document faked by the monks – officially known as OSUNA, CP.37, D.9 – is a parchment on which round Visigothic script records a donation from the Count of Castile to the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña. Until now, the document was thought to be somewhat unique as hardly any original documents from the 10th century survive in Castilian Spanish. However, research has shown that it was actually drawn up two centuries later.
The research, to be made public shortly in the Medieval Studies Annual Report, has revealed which procedures were employed to doctor the will, as well as the motives that led the monks to do so. The forgers based their work on an authentic document stipulating a donation from the Count, inserting elements that were not in the original, in order to use it as evidence in potential lawsuits, two of which were subsequently filed and won by the monks.
The analysis of the document, carried out by Sonia Serna from the University of Burgos, has exposed anomalies both in its preparation and its writing. Serna explains that the scribe was accustomed to working with the 12th century Carolinian script, and made an effort to imitate the round Visigothic script typical of 10th century Castile. But anachronistic features crept into his work, such as the use of the Carolinian system of abbreviations and the adoption of anomalous solutions to abbreviate some words, elements that would not have existed in the 10th century. All the same, the forgery proved effective enough to win two court cases.
The forged document included a clause that ceded the church to the Burgos monastery
The original document used by the monk as a model for his forgery was lost. However, a copy survived in the collection of charters, known as Becerro Gótico de Cardeña and kept in the Zabálburu Library in Madrid. By comparing both texts, Julio Escalona from the CSIC History Institute verified that the monk copied the wording and appearance of the authentic will, but inserted a clause assigning the church of Santa María de Cuevas de Provanco to the monastery of San Pedro.
In 1175, the church of Santa María de las Cuevas was the subject of litigation between the monastery of San Pedro and the councils of Peñafiel and Castrillo de Duero. The Burgos monastery finally won by presenting the false parchment document and getting two monks to testify its authenticity. According to the experts, that document was the will filed in the Toledo archive, whose anomalous paleographic features are consistent with an elaboration in the second half of the 12th century, taking the original as a model.
“Its value does not lie in the anecdotal fact of its being or not being the oldest document in the archive [as was believed until now], but in showing how technical skills and moral and religious authority combined in this case to build a credible truth, capable of triumphing in a judicial scenario,” states the CSIC and University of Burgos study. “Ultimately, it reminds us that to fully understand any historical period, it is essential to understand how each period rewrites and manipulates its past.”
The monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, where the forgery was made, was completely plundered by the Napoleonic troops during the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1808. The monks fled in terror and had to abandon all the treasures they had been guarding for centuries. One of the desecrated tombs was that of El Cid – or Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, with Napoleon’s soldiers selling off his weapons and remains throughout Europe. They even made engravings reflecting the plundering of the tomb of the legendary warrior. Today, a plaque states that although the remains of the Castilian hero are no longer here, his horse is buried in the monastery’s garden, though this may be no more than a myth.
Seven of Italy’s most enchanting Christmas markets in 2022
After two years of pandemic cancellations and restrictions, Italy’s Christmas markets will be back in full swing this festive season.
While the energy crisis means some towns are cutting back on lighting and limiting the hours of operation, there’s still plenty of magic to be found.
Whether your focus is on sipping mulled wine surrounded by snow-topped mountains, riding a ferris wheel, sampling German sausages or marvelling at light displays, Italy has something for everyone.
Without further ado, here are some of the country’s best Christmas markets in 2022.
One of Italy’s longest-running Christmas markets, the festive extravaganza in Bolzano’s Piazza Walther is also said to be the country’s largest, with around 80 stalls selling a variety of traditional handicrafts and local treats.
Resting at the foot of the snow-capped Dolomites, Bolzano’s pre-WWI history and proximity to the Austrian border means the city is steeped in Germanic influences, with a number of citizens speaking German as their first language.
This gives Bolzano’s Christmas market a German twist; expect to be offered candied fruit, apple strudel, cinnamon-spiced mulled wine and other alpine delights as you browse its chalet huts.
When? Until January 6th
Christmas balls on display in Bolzano’s Christmas market. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP.
While it hasn’t been running for quite as long as neighbouring Bolzano’s, Trento’s Christmas market has become almost as popular, with new stalls added every year.
Just like Bolzano, Trento is surrounded by maintains, which means you can take in views of stunning white peaks as you wander the old town’s cobbled streets warming your hands on a cup of vin brulè.
As usual, the market will be spread across Piazza Battisti and Piazza Fiera; the Trento city council has also published a calendar of key events happening every day as part of the city’s festive offering.
This year Trento’s Christmas market will have a ‘green’ focus – the use of clean energy, edible bread plates and recycled paper are all part of the concerted effort to limit the event’s environmental impact.
When? Until January 8th
Trento’s Christmas market has grown rapidly in recent years. Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP.
Throughout the month of December and into January, Milan’s Piazza del Duomo plays host to the city’s Christmas market, with almost 80 wooden huts popping up all over the main square.
Those who want to see Milan at its most Christmassy, however, will want to wait for the “Oh Bej! Oh Bej!” (“How beautiful! How beautiful!” in local dialect) festive fair held in the area surrounding the city’s castle, Castello Sforzesco.
This sprawling, centuries-old market is held to coincide with the Feast of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan’s patron saint, and is expected to take place as usual from December 7th-10th.
As a result of the energy crisis, Milan will turn on its Christmas lights two weeks later than usual this year, on December 7th – so you might want to time your visit accordingly if you want to witness the city’s illumination.
When? December 1st until January 6th (Piazza del Duomo market)
People walk across a Christmas market in downtown Milan as snow falls on December 8, 2021. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.
Lake Como’s roving ‘Città dei balocchi‘ or ‘Toytown’ Christmas fair this year moves to Cernobbio, where visitors can expect to find the town’s Villa Erba park transformed into a winter wonderland.
Fairytale characters, singing trees and a talking tower will greet adults and children who enter the park, with admission free to all.
Festivities are due to kick off at 5pm on December 7th with the opening of Magic Light festival, a mesmerising light display with projections of moving images.
On December 8th – Italy’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which for many in Italy signals the start of the festive period – light displays on Cernobbio’s tree and in the old town will be switched on, heralding the arrival of Christmas.
When? December 7th until January 8th
Florence has a range of Christmas markets, but the largest and best-known is the one on Piazza Santa Croce in front of the beautiful Santa Croce Basilica.
It’s run by the organisers of the Heidelberger Weihnachtsmarkt in Germany, which means you can expect authentic bratwurst, stollen, Glühwein, lebkuchen biscuits and German beer, as well as Austrian, Dutch, Hungarian, Polish, French and Italian treats.
This one closes a full week before Christmas, so if you’re planning an Italy Christmas markets tour you might want to make Florence your first stop.
When? Until December 18th
Florence’s Christmas market is German-themed. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP.
Like Florence, Verona’s Christmas market is a collaboration with that of a German city; in this case, Nuremberg’s Christkindlmarkt.
At the main market on Piazza dei Signori you can expect to find sauerkraut, potatoes and German sausage, as well as fried donuts made with ricotta and coated in chocolate.
In addition to those on main square, the market stalls – which this year number some 100 huts – will fill Cortile del Mercato Vecchio and stretch intro surrounding squares and streets.
This year’s festive offering includes a Santa Claus house, a children’s train, two skating rinks, and a range of musical events.
Be sure to look out for the city’s famous 70m-high, 82m-long illuminated shooting star sculpture in Piazza Bra – installed in November and dismantled in January every year since 1984, the sight has become central to the Veronese Christmas experience.
When? Until December 26th
Ensuring that Italy’s northern and central regions don’t get all of the glory, the Luci d’artista (Artist’s Lights) display in Salerno draws visitors from all over the world to this small city just east of the Amalfi coast.
This illuminated open-air exhibition runs the length of the main shopping street, up to the Christmas tree on Piazza Portanova, through the medieval city centre and up to the Villa Comunale public gardens.
Salerno’s Christmas market stalls occupy a stretch of the seafront, and this year will run from December 3rd-25th.
Accompanying the event will be a 55m-high ferris wheel, two jazz concerts, and a Santa Claus house (from December 10th to January 7th).
When? December 2nd until January 31st; Christmas market stalls December 3rd-25th.
The Luci d’artista lights display in Salerno attracts visitors from all over the world. Photo by MARIO LAPORTA / AFP.
Graphcore launches C600 card for China amid financial woes • The Register
‘Destitution is almost inevitable’: Afghan refugees in Greece left homeless by failed system | Migration and development
200 Irish businesses are getting the chance to test-drive electric vehicles
Netflix says it won’t pay network use fees in South Korea • The Register
Rents rise 23% in the pandemic in the South West but drop in London
5 fun online games to sharpen your UX design skills
Technology2 days ago
5 fun online games to sharpen your UX design skills
Culture4 days ago
Sweden launches major state initiative to fight cybercrime aimed at smart cars
Technology5 days ago
Dealing with the trauma of abrupt large-scale layoffs
Global Affairs1 week ago
CanSino: Beijing rolls out inhaled vaccine during its biggest Covid surge ever | Society
Culture1 week ago
Chris Hemsworth discovers he has a high risk of Alzheimers: ‘Not being able to remember life is my greatest fear’ | Culture
Culture1 week ago
Tourist behavior: ‘Prison! Sacrifice!’: Angry crowd berates tourist who climbed protected pyramid in Chichén Itzá | International
Culture3 days ago
Apache historian questions official narratives: ‘How is it possible that 120 soldiers cut off the feet of 8,000 of our brave Indigenous people?’ | Culture
Culture1 week ago
The Blockbuster trap: The chain that symbolizes nostalgia for the video store was also the one that destroyed it | Culture