Grand Theft Slogan
Posted on Apr 16, 2008
Consider Barack Obama a trendsetter: In Italy, the recently defeated center-left leader in the parliamentary elections took a cue from the American candidate and adopted the slogan “Si può fare” or, as The Economist translates, “It can be done.” Right-winger Silvio Berlusconi, who won a convincing victory in that election, begged to differ.
Of course Obama, who has used the slogan “Yes, we can,” lifted “Sí se puede” from the United Farm Workers, who have been using it since the early 1970s. More recently, other labor movements and pro-immigrant activists have appropriated the phrase.
BY ANY measure it is a remarkable comeback. Two years after being voted out of office, Silvio Berlusconi won a decisive victory in Italy’s general election on April 13th and 14th that should allow him to govern Italy for the full, five-year term of the next parliament. He convincingly beat his main rival, Walter Veltroni, the leader of Italy’s centre-left Democratic party, who had tried to latch on to the charisma of Barack Obama in the American primary race by adopting the slogan Si puo fare (It can be done).
In fact Mr Veltroni was not even close. Straws in the wind had suggested that he was closing on the media billionaire in the final week of campaigning, yet the media tycoon’s jocular complacency was a better guide. The electorate punished a centre-left that had failed to contain its internal disputes and that had tried to solve the country’s public-finance difficulties by putting up taxes and clamping down on evasion.
Flickr / AndreasC