From a media baron’s on-air antics to a comedian who shuns television, the campaign strategies employed by contenders in Italy’s election have been poles apart, reports the BBC’s Alan Johnston in Rome. Silvio Berlusconi is in a live television studio, half out of his seat and bellowing furiously at the audience about the Communist past of his left wing opponents. It is just one moment in a typical media performance by Italy’s former Prime Minister. He had gone into what was for him a lion’s den; the Servizio Pubblico political talk show It airs on a channel beyond the control of Mr Berlusconi’s Mediaset television empire. Some of his sharpest critics were lying in wait for him.And over more than two hours they launched attacks aimed at exposing Mr Berlusconi’s many failings. It was a chance to almost put him on trial, and the bookmakers were suggesting he might storm off the set. But he stayed in his seat, and rose to the occasion. He twisted and turned, counter-attacked and blustered and ranted and joked and charmed.
“It became a one-man show, said Filippo Sensi, a communications expert. “He took over the broadcast.” And in the days afterwards, Mr Berlusconi’s poll ratings continued to climb. “He’s shaped the history of Italian television over the last 30 years,” said Mr Sensi.
“He’s not someone who appears on TV: he is TV!
“It’s his natural environment, his political arena. When he’s on TV, he’s happy – in his element.” It’s hardly surprising then that Mr Berlusconi has waged his campaign for this weekend’s election almost entirely from the nation’s television studios.