Italy's elections promise something for all
From right-wing gays of the "Black Rose" movement, to parties seeking to dump the euro, to the "Ordinary Guy Front", there is something for everyone in the dazzling array of groups seeking to contest Italy's elections.
The Interior Ministry, which will oversee the February 24-25 vote, has received a record 215 logos from parties, movements, associations, local and special interest groups of all sizes and colours - anyone who wants to be put on posters or ballot slips.
All manner of logos were displayed for public viewing on Monday in a long corridor in the ministry's ground floor: a red heart, a tramp carrying a sack with his belongings hanging from a stick on his back, a heavily made-up former porn star.
"Some of this is pure exhibitionism but still, it is part of democracy," said a ministry employee perusing the logos. He and his colleagues declined to give their names.
"This just shows the level of dissatisfaction today. The traditional parties don't responded to malaise about pensions, environment, taxes, everything. No one is happy," another ministry employee said.
Apart from many logos from the main parties and their offshoots, there is a dizzying display of symbols pushing every position, cause, protest and desire under the political sun.
An Italian who feels the squeeze of the tax man in the current recession can find a home either in the "Stop Taxes and Banks" movement, the "Halve the Salaries of Politicians" group or even the "Look What a Mess They've Got Us Into" group.
Total disaffection with the system is clearly expressed on the logo of the "Ordinary Guy Front" - a drawing of a man screaming in tortured pain while squeezed in a vice.
The ministry, using a 1957 law, will decide which logos it allows, depending mainly on the number of signatures backing them. In the last national elections in 2008, 153 out of 181 were approved.
Many are civic lists and special-interest groups which will only appear locally. Most will then link up with larger parties or any coalition and give them their votes.
The symbol of "Democracy, Nature and Love" (DNA) movement features former porn star Ilona Staller, who went by the screen name of Cicciolina (little cuddly one) and was elected to parliament for the Radical Party in 1987.
SEX, SPORT AND RELIGION
Staller has retired from both politics and the porn industry but her picture graces the logo of the libertarian movement. Posted nearby is the logo of the "Gays of the Right - Black Rose" movement.
Catholic voters unhappy with the values espoused by mainstream centrist parties can find a home in either the "Party of Catholics", the "Sacred Roman Empire" movement or even two groups with identical names: "The Militia of Christ". The logo of one sports a red heart while the other is a red anchor.
At least two groups are associated with Rome's rival football teams - "Forza Roma" and "Forza Lazio".
A voter who feels Italy thirsts for muse-like inspiration to solve its problems might be lured by the "Poets of Action Movement", the "Art, Freedom and Democracy" group or the "Party of the Cultural Revolution".
Its logo is a human brain with the command: "Think about your future!"
Some logos are provocations whose shelf life is dubious.
One is the "Bunga Bunga Movement", which takes its name from the wild parties held by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Perhaps one of the logos encapsulates best the mood of frustration many Italians feel. Its promoters call themselves a national civil list and its message is very clear: "I don't vote."