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The crazy world of gadgets of Italian political parties

Between the Christian Democrat's mini pinball machine and Silvio Berlusconi's boggle

The crazy world of gadgets of Italian political parties Between the Christian Democrat's mini pinball machine and Silvio Berlusconi's boggle

On 25 September, the vote will take place to elect Italy's next Prime Minister, but amidst an election campaign that is divided between the sensationalist and populist communication strategy of the Italian right and a left wing that is perhaps taking itself too seriously to be able to interact with its supporters in a direct way, the predictions for the exit polls are rather confused. The game is being played on social networks, in order Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and recently, ever since Silvio Berlusconi rediscovered the hype that a good joke can arouse or since Carlo Calenda decided to confess his difficulties with dancing, also TikTok. With the advent of the new media, the days seem long gone when the space for discussing issues of public policy were the squares, the schools, the universities, the pubs, the national television, when rallies were really a social event and aroused the same cheer in voters as one would expect from a football match: these were the golden years of party gadgets.

In the political sphere, the tradition of gadgets comes from America, where elections become a real 'guerrilla marketing', to quote the definition of American publicist Jay Conrad Levinson. Exemplary in this sense were the 2008 presidential elections, Obama's first, which went down in history with the future president's face in red and blue printed on sweatshirts, T-shirts, pins, pens, USB sticks. Since then, gadgets have become an integral part of each political party's communication strategy, as well as a great way to replenish the coffers by offering mass-produced objects in party colours, with the candidates' names, slogans and provocations towards opponents, even on celebrities such as Kendall Jenner or Emily Ratajkowski if we are talking about Bernie Sanders' merch.

In Italy, the tradition of merchandise signed by politicians is a classic of the right wing, which offers collectibles to its voters such as Giorgia Meloni's key-ring that plays the Italian anthem, Silvio Berlusconi's boggle, boxer shorts with the Forza Italia logo, and fan-made merch from M5S followers complete with pillows and inflatable balloons. Today they are available on, facebook marketplace, e-bay at three times the original price and kept on shelves like family heirlooms. According to Corriere Della Sera, the idea of massively using gadgets to strengthen militancy and identification in a party comes from Berlusconi himself, who introduced it in the 1994 elections. Objects such as the original 'descent into the field' pins that some loyal militants sported at the Eur convention, generating envy among those present because they were unobtainable. Not to mention the twenty-one million 'euroconverters' (a high-sounding way of saying calculator) that the Prime Minister sent in 2001 to celebrate Christmas and say goodbye to the lira.

Today, an advertisement appears on 'I am selling an original Zenith watch in 18 k gold ordered directly from Zenith by President Silvio Berlusconi, with the date of the birth of Forza Italia on the back with the president's original signature'. While, with a bit of luck, it is possible to find on e-bay the mini pinball machine of the Christian Democracy, in which the game consists of keeping the balls always in the centre, protected by the crusader shield, to save oneself from the dictatorial drifts of the right and left. This is followed by the Pd's clothes peg with the inscription 'I care', a little banal but effective, distributed on the occasion of the 2009 primaries, and the famous green sweatshirts of the Northern League, worn by Salvini, which however, "unbeknownst to him perhaps, were made in Bangladesh." Among this year's novelties is the Enigmistica of the patriots, the latest gimmick of the FdI election campaign that accompanies Giorgia Meloni on tour around Italy. By filling in the quiz distributed free of charge at rallies if you join the dots the PD is 'the party that has deceived the Italians' and you then have to trace the way out in a maze to 'send the PD and 5Stelle home'. Somewhere between playful and worrying, if the politicians' gadgets lead you to inexorable reflection on the future of our country, you can always read some Silvio Berlusconi jokes from the book 'The Laughing King' by Simone Barillari to lighten your spirits.