When Italian politicians block you on Twitter: the story of Maurizio Gasparri

Mr. Maurizio Gasparri is not a new name in the Italian political scene when it comes to insulting citizens publicly and displaying detrimental social media management skills. A few months ago I expressed on Twitter my disapproval to (Senator) Gasparri’s behaviour online.

As a result (I presume) I noticed that a few days ago Mr. Gasparri has blocked me on Twitter. This was again a bad move. By blocking me I can simply not follow him but that does not prevent me from actually looking at his tweets, replying or still mentioning him in my tweets. So, why blocking me?

Already in September, the Senator got back to a tenacious follower in a quite “colourful” way. Mr. Gasparri literally asked publicly on Twitter if the “follower’s mom had come back from working the streets yet.”  maurizio-gasparri-insulto-marciapiedeSuch action would lead to the immediate resignation of any political figure in any normal country. Also, the media would be covering this issue relentlessly. But not in Italy. In Italy, the caste system is well more integrated than in India and having politicians behaving disgracefully to private citizens is just not news any more. Whoever holds minimal political authority feels entitled, or blessed by God himself, to be above any other citizen and not to be at the service of the citizens. Gasparri’s case is just one out of thousands but I’m quoting his case because he embodies the typical attitude of the Italian politician type towards the people combined with very poor management of his digital presence. Continue reading “When Italian politicians block you on Twitter: the story of Maurizio Gasparri”

Civil rights in Italy? Only for MPs

In Italy there is no such thing as civil unions. You can either be married, by a recognized religious institution or by your municipality, or just not be married. There is no way in between. If you have had a partner for the past 20 years and you are not legally married to him/her there is no way the two of them can be recognized as one nuclear family whatsoever.  When it comes to tax declaration, death, injury etc.. these people will be always recognized by the state as two separate legal entities. This applies to all citizens…or, wait a moment, it actually does not! Members of the Parliament have the right to declare their partners as more uxorio couples so that they can benefit from state benefits as if they were married.

images Continue reading “Civil rights in Italy? Only for MPs”

Why Pope Francis I will need to face social media

A version of this article was also published in The Expositor

The picture below is quite eloquent. The historic moment of Pope Francis I’s election was commented and shared widely around all social media platforms. In fact, social media brings new challenges for a Catholic church in desperate need of innovation and rediscovery of real closure with its disciples. The way communication has changed in the past 7 years cannot be neglected if a step forward towards a new approach to the people is to be made.


The hashtags#pope and #conclave were mentioned respectively 233787 and 153695 times on Twitter on 13th March 2013.


Frankly, it seemed that when the account @Pontifex was launched on Twitter, the people in charge of the Vatican’s media activity didn’t think it through. Firstly, it didn’t make any sense to have a 10 days gap between the opening of the account and the first actual tweet. This resulted in a massive collection of insults by thousands of people directly to the Church. Insults and accusations that were all visible in one big Twitter feed. It was liked they prepared an actual gigantic container of verbal abuses all addressed to them.

New Picture (2)

Besides, now all previous tweet have been cancelled and you can now only see the “annunciation’s tweet” almost to demonstrate a net cut with the past. After all Benedict XVI was not a beloved Pope. He made some clear U turns in comparison to his predecessor and his eraly departure as a Pope (the first in Catholic church history) still remains highly controversial. Francis I seems to already display a completely different approach in which he expresses closure to the people and humility towards the role that has been thrust upon him. Will this reflect into his communication strategy? Will he be as close to the people as savvy in handling new communication channel? Of course in this case I’m referring more to his media/PR people rather than the 76-year-old Pope himself.

So what if , God forbid, Pope Bergoglio will leave us soon again? Will his tweets be removed AGAIN? What kind of strategy is that?

The opening of a papal account represented and still represents an incredible opportunity to get closer to the people and should not be considered as a mere newsfeed for the press. It is scary to open up especially when you pave the way to open direct commenting. This, however, should not brake the communication potentials of an institution that has long lost credibility and is going through a dark time of its millennial history.

Matthew 17:24-27: when the Italian Church forgets about its fiscal duties

“The incredible saga of anti-Catholic prejudice and pride continues. It does so incessantly. Much, very much, this is due to the malice, superficiality and inertia of the media”. These are the words of Marco Tarquinio, director of catholic Italian paper Avvenire about the recently proposed bill to stop tax exemption for Church-owned real estate properties in Italy.

If approved and implemented, it is estimated that this bill will bring 600 million euros into Italy’s finances. Apart from that, there has been investigation about illicit use of such Church-owned properties for lucrative activities (hotels, restaurants, conference hosting). Needless to say, all these activities are exempted from tax declaration.

Taking into account Mr. Tarquinio’s statements, I would like to respond by pointing out that prejudice  is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy.

The advent of this bill and the fierceness of huge part of national press on the issue is everything but prejudice or preconception. It is based on evidence which has been notably kept unveiled for a very long time.

A simple amateur investigation has unmasked speculation in a convent in Ferrara and, only God knows, (this is a euphemism) how many of such occurrences are taking place in this very moment in Italy. I excuse myself for using the word unmasked as ,in reality, these practices are open in the air but hardly documented.

Tarquinio proceeds in his eulogy (to such a lost cause) by claiming that the evidence provided by the media and by the Radical party (that published their investigation) is the “last falsity circulated maliciously and deceitfully about a malign being of the institution of the Church”.

Such denial against the results of investigative journalism always turns out to be a sign of the end of excuses, pledges and acts of self-justification. It reminds me of Nixon’s famous quote in front of David Frost When the president does it is not illegal or Mr. Berlusconi’s I have never met Mr. Mills in my life. Well, we have seen how these two turned out, I guess Mr. Angelo Bagnasco is preparing his case.

The media are not a reversed inquisition.  The old and new Italian societies are tired of ecclesiastic negationism and unraveling influence on policy-making on ethical issues. In terms of morality, we could make a thousand reportages titled predica bene e razzola male, literally “Preach well but do wrong”.

Perhaps it’d be good to remind some representatives of the “holy” institution about Matthew 17,24-27.

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Pensions reform in Italy is a priority. Will Fornero perpetrate her mission?

Il Corriere della Sera yesterday presented the pensions reform project put forward by newly appointed minister for welfare Fornero. What seems innovative to the Italian eye is actually praxis in most North and Central EU member states.

The initiative is certainly zealous and absolutely necessary in a country ranked as 213th in the world for fertility rate that presents a continuously ageing population. Such reform was proposed a number of times in both Berlusconi’s I and II governments but the implementation of it got lost on the way.

It now takes the willingness and the guts to go against the strong powers (poteri forti) to accomplish it. Surely, if this reform can help both national growth, a priority to restore the economy, and the trust into the Italian national administration.

The main challenge will surely come from the absurdly anachronistic trade unions that cannot permit losing the complacency of their members. Will they, this time, be far-sighted enough to allow this reform without any speculative obstruction? Hard to say but I certainly hope so.