Homo Europeus

L'Europa, la Gran Bretagna, l'Italia, la sinistra e il futuro…

Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Cameron?

Posted by homoeuropeus su 5 marzo 2010

Photo: Documentally 2009

As Europe swoos over Cameron’s public image they’d do well to remember that elections should be judged on politics over personality.

‘He is young and good-looking’, ‘he is confident and charismatic’, ‘he is smart and open-minded’. These are the most probable answers you will receive by foreigner observers when talking about David Cameron.

I’ve tried myself, asking journalists, academics and experts in different European countries, and all the answers referred to his self promoted image and self-assured progressiveness, with almost no mention of his real political stands. Surprisingly this admiration crosses the border of the left-right political division. Some sectors of the post-ideological Italian Democratic party look at Cameron as an example of innovation and political renewal, while a left-wing French colleague told me that Cameron is ‘the kind of leader I would like to have in my country’s socialist party’.

So little is known about him and his policies in Paris, Berlin and Rome. It is quite common that biographical gossip attracts much more international attention than political issues. People know everything about President Sarkozy and Carla Bruni even if they don’t have a clue about the current political debate in France; people tend to be interested in Berlusconi’s sexual scandals much more than in his government’s policies.

With David Cameron, however, things should be different. Firstly because in Sarkozy’s and Berlusconi’s cases we do not transpose to the political sphere our judgement on their personal life. Nobody would say ‘I hope President Sarkozy will win the next elections because I like the fact that he’s married to a supermodel’.

Though Samantha is not a supermodel, David Cameron private life seems to guarantee him political sympathies and support around the world. His privileged background, his easy-going youthfulness, his well connected friends and his rapid political ascent are seen and admired as elements of force, character and political will.

None of these elements – for which, in any case, Cameron himself has little credit – should be regarded as a political asset. Quite the contrary; having a Prime Minister brought up in an elitist environment is a risk for the whole society since he will not be able to connect with real life and understand everyday problems that affect the less advantaged and more vulnerable people.

Secondly, and most importantly, all these personal characteristics, that are – it is worth remembering – exalted by team Cameron with extraordinary PR techniques, will be of minimal, if any, importance when and if the conservative leader becomes PM.

It is certainly easier to focus on lifestyle and personal details, but the truth about the next general election is that it will shape the future political scenario not only in this country but also in Europe and in the rest of the world. Let’s just think for a second what would have happened if apple-cheeked Cameron was at the helm when the financial crisis started. He could have hardly hidden his inability to deal with the situation behind his smooth smile and his melodious voice.

People around Europe – as well as voters in this country – must remember that the approaching general election will be a battle between different political ideas, not just a personal competition between two indivduals who want to be Prime Minister. We should stop wondering at this young “rising star” who enchants us with his glamorous manners and start scrutinising his policies and inquiring about the values, disguised behind his confident smile.

Articolo pubblicato originariamente sul sito di Progress.

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