Parma mayor becomes Italy’s most-watched politician

May 27, 2012

By Silvia Aloisi | Reuters

PARMA, Italy | Federico Pizzarotti was an unknown, 38-year-old computer technician at a bank until a few weeks ago. Just four days after being elected the mayor of Parma, he has become the most-watched political figure in Italy.

Pizzarotti’s leap to fame comes thanks to the grassroots Five-Star Movement, led by comedian Beppe Grillo, which dealt a stunning blow to the parties that have governed Italy for the past two decades in this month’s local elections.

Pizzarotti has astonished observers of the Italian political scene by emerging from obscurity to become the first Five-Star candidate to run one of the country’s major cities.

The movement, which was created just three years ago and relies extensively on the Internet, has become the country’s second most popular party with more than 18 percent support and more than half of Italians would consider voting for it, according to opinion polls.

“Two weeks ago, nobody knew who I was. I feel quite a bit of weight on my shoulders, everybody is watching us,” Pizzarotti told Reuters in an interview in a frescoed chamber in Parma’s 15th-century town hall.

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