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Senate Shenanigans PDF Print E-mail
Jan 28, 2008 at 07:17 PM

ImageIn post-war Italy the two houses of Italian parliament  have often been the scene of  high jinx, rowdy drama, unruliness and even occasional violence, but  a new low was reached last month in the Italian Senate, when  spitting, shoving, vulgar insults and spraying champagne caused embarassment and disgust among both political observers and  normal, self-respecting Italian citizens. During the roll call for a crucial vote of confidence on the fate of Prime Minister Romani Prodi’s fragile government, which subsequently fell, there were two unbelievably vulgar scenes in the upper house. (I've chosen somewhat larger than normal pictures so readers can get a good idea of what I'm talking about here.)

ImageThe first incident occurred when Nuccio Cusumano,  59 one of three Senators from the tiny UDEUR party whose defection from Mr.. Prodi’s government had made the vote of confidence inevitable, decided to back Mr. Prodi after all and voted “yes.  This led fellow UDEUR Senator Tommaso Barbato, like Cusumano from the southern region of Campania, to lunge at his colleague, insult him and spit in his face. Mr. Cusumano burst into tears and then apparently fainted. The two did not come to blows only because of the intervention of other Senators and Senate ushers.

       If this weren’t bad enough, what can be said about the antics of Senator Nino Strano, a Sicilian entrepreneur who represents the far-right Alleanza Nazionale party. First Strano, who for unknown reasons was wearing sunglasses and had tied a red cashmere sweater around the shoulders of his suit started screaming insults such as “squalid queen” at Cusumano ,although the latter is not known to be gay. Then, once the Prodi government had lost the vote, making its resignation inevitable, he ignored the calls to order of the Senate majority leqader,Franco Marini, uncorked a bottle of champagne and began stuffing slices of mortadella into his mouth. Mortadella, a which is the Italian name for baloney, has long been a nickname for Mr. Prodi who in fact comes from Bologna, the birthplace of mortadella.
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