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Political language in Italy and Great Britain

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Patrick McCarthy underlined the role of political language in the crisis of the Italian Republic. It was both a reflection of the crisis and an active agent of political change. A study of Berlusconi's political language reveals the importance of his new, simplified style of political communication in the creation of his party Forza Italia and of his own personal charisma. He has been able to adapt his rhetoric to changing political circumstances and to different publics. Romano Prodi was successful in 1996 in constructing his image as the 'anti-Berlusconi', and Walter Veltroni also broke with the old style of hermetic political discourse acknowledging the inspiration both of Robert Kennedy and Tony Blair, but the language of the centre-left in recent years has generally failed to convey a clear message and has perpetuated obscurity in order to conceal its internal divisions. A comparison with the political language of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair reveals interesting similarities and differences. Thatcher, like Berlusconi, appealed to the need for national revival in the face of the threat from the left, but her language, unlike his, was rooted in the tradition of Protestant individualism and invigorated rather than challenging the existing party system. Blair managed to make skilful use of a new rhetoric of emotion and to incorporate elements of Thatcher's appeal in his 'new Labour' synthesis. In conclusion: McCarthy was deeply preoccupied with the possibility of an alternative and more honest style of political communication.
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Keywords: Berlusconi; Britain; Political language; centre-left; propaganda

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Johns Hopkins Bologna Center,

Publication date: 01 March 2009

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