When Italian politicians threaten to move to Africa

Africa is really attractive in different ways to many former Italian politicians, it seems.

The Italian center right politician, Walter Veltroni. Image by Tommaso Tani, via Flickr CC.

What would you do with old politicians who just won’t give up their seats in the Italian Parliament after too many years of service? Tell them to go to Africa. That’s what people on Twitter and Facebook suggested after Walter Veltroni, the first leader of the center-left Italian Democratic Party, confirmed that he won’t present himself as a candidate in next year’s parliamentary elections for the first time in 19 years. But the idea of traveling to Africa after his political career ends had been brought up by Veltroni himself, when in 2003 he promised during an interview on French TV that “he would leave for Africa with his wife in 2011.” Veltroni even wrote a book called Maybe God is sick: Diary of an African journey, but so far no journey to Africa has been organized by or for Walter. Yet.

News website Il Post has published a list of Veltroni’s party members who have made a fuss of retiring only to postpone that decision.

But back to the Africa excuse of Italian politicians. Africa is really attractive in different ways to many former Italian politicians. Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of Italy from 1996 to 1998 and from 2006 to 2008, has been appointed as Special Envoy for the Sahel by the UN Secretary-General and he will be sent to Mali to discuss the military intervention by Ecowas (or by a French-led, it depends on the day of the week).

And the same enthusiasm is also found on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Emilio Fede, anchorman of the news program on Rete 4–a channel owned by Italian tycoon and former premier Silvio Berlusconirecently revealed his plans: “Next June, when I’ll turn 82, I’ll tear up the contract I have with Mediaset [the network of the Berlusconi family] … I want a better life. And If I didn’t have a family, I would go to Africa.”

The American dream is over. Italian politicians have legitimized the African one.

Further Reading

Mobilizing in disorder

Post the looting and failed insurrection, what would it mean for the South African left to undertake a populist political strategy? And should it look to South America for inspiration? A long read.