Paolo Mancini: Will the internet transform Italian politics?

Professor Paolo Mancini argues that while new technologies offer opportunities, they also lead to political and social polarisation.

Professor Paolo Mancini from the Department of Political Science at the University of Perugia says that while he is in favour of new technologies and the opportunities they offer, he is reluctant to be “completely optimistic”. One of the challenges thrown up by the current, fragmented media landscape, is political polarisation: “More than opening to other voices, the internet blocks. Social media can be an occasion to just reinforce what I already believe.” Mancini adds that while public service broadcasters are the only type of media that could conceivably offer a plurality of voices, the risk is that people find it “boring”.

Main image: Blogger Beppe Grillo (left, by Lucarelli under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence) and ex-president Silvio Berlusconi (right) have both used the media in Italy to rise to power, says Mancini.

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Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. Italy has been classified since 2009 as a partially free country by the Freedom house- a Washington DC independent watchdog organization- resulting the less free country in the European Union. The fact that ”Berlusconi controls roughly 80% of Italian free-to-air television channels, in a country where just 20% of the population reads newspapers.”(Benedetta Brevini) (1), demonstrates how the access to informations in Italy is filtered by the Prime Minister and his government bureaus. The Alfano law case is a brilliant example of how informations are censored and how politicians try to avoid scandals using illicitly their power. The law would avoid the spread of informations about investigations until the case would go to trial; if journalist would publish articles with inconvenient informations they will risk a 20,000 euros penalty and publishers a 464,700 euros one to have unobserved the ban. As the recent Berlusconi sex scandal as shown many informations in Italy are banned and people had to consult international news to get informed. The art. 21 of the Italian constitution declares that “Anyone has the right to freely express their thoughts in speech, writing, or any other form of communication. The press may not be subjected to any authorisation or censorship.” (4) ; this article shows the hypocrisy of the government in power.

    1. Benedetta Brevini (2010), Europe should protect Italy freedom of speech, the
    4. Enrico De Nicola, Umberto Terracini, Alcide de Gasperi and Giuseppe Grassi, (1947) Constitution of the Italian Republic

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