The features, impact and legacy of Berlusconi's campaigning techniques, language and style

Cristian Vaccari

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This essay empirically evaluates three aspects of Berlusconi's legacy for Italian political communication: his pioneering of political marketing and modern electioneering; his ability to appropriate and popularise his particular rhetorical formulae; and his approach to increasingly relevant digital media. Berlusconi skilfully imported professional televised-centric campaigning in Italy, opening a wide competitive gap that his centre-left opponents took two decades to close. He also managed deeply to influence political discourse by spreading his signature catchphrases among most journalists and politicians, including his opponents. He was, however, less innovative, and generally outperformed by his main competitors, in the use of digital media to inform and engage voters. These findings suggest that Berlusconi's impact on Italian political communication has been massive, but his legacy may be less lasting to the extent that media and electioneering are evolving towards models that differ from those dominated by Berlusconi.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-39
Number of pages15
JournalModern Italy
Issue number1
Early online date5 Feb 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2015

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