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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 21 febbraio 2013 alle ore 08:21.


The 2013 Italian election campaign has been defined as «one of the worst ever». The inevitable rhetoric has been watered down by below the belt populism, unachievable promises and mounting scandals echoing the so called Bribesville of the 1990s. To boot this election campaign is a very odd one. The debate among candidates for the premiership is heated by an unprecedented topic: the "spread", that being, the yield gap between Italian and German government bonds. "Spread" is a word most Italians can hardly pronounce and have difficulty comprehending: nevertheless it has become something of a buzzword since it skyrocketed in 2011. For many Italians a spread out of control is an expensive nightmare, responsible for one of the harshest pension reforms in Italy along with the reintroduction of property taxes.
As it is a very sensitive issue, Italian politicians could hardly avoid mentioning it in their electoral build up. The positions taken, not surprisingly, vary massively. Silvio Berlusconi, PDL leader, called the spread a «rip-off» and commented that «Italian people could not give a damn about it». Interviewed on TV, the Cavaliere, whose campaign leaves a strong anti-German taste, took some time to explain why and how the spread moves: «The price of bonds went down to 70 and the yield went up», he said, accusing German banks of dumping Italian bonds. Mario Monti, head of the technocratic government formed in November 2011 with the precise purpose of bringing the spread down, uses this topic to underline that he is very worried about the spread rising again. This, he said, is due to unrealistic electoral promises, which could be a "poisoned apple" for markets. Monti tried to joke about it, in an ironic way saying: «My nephew has been given the nickname "spread"».

Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democratic party, was both more down to earth and realistic, in line with his approach to all issues throughout the campaign: «Berlusconi's comments on the spread are nonsense, this yield gap is something to be concerned about and not be underestimated». For Bersani, it is important to have amicable talks with Germany to solve the problem. Beppe Grillo, the former comedian heading the MoVimento 5 Stelle, made the spread come alive in the form of a caricature to address the problem of the huge Italian public debt.
Can the spread influence votes? Of course. It can gain votes from those Italians who do not believe in short-cuts and are well aware that the spread must come down at all costs, even if this means more pain and bad medicine. But the spread can also win support from those Italians who vote with their stomachs. Those who are sick and tired of tighter taxation and continued talk of spread as this, they fear, will fuel corruption in political circles.
(Traduzione di James Tierney)

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