Italy's most colourful politician demands vote for Beauty and Reason

Click to follow
The Independent Online

One of Italy's most colourful politicians has announced that he is launching a new political party, "the Party of Beauty and Reason", on the single issue of protecting Italy's culture from depredation.

One of Italy's most colourful politicians has announced that he is launching a new political party, "the Party of Beauty and Reason", on the single issue of protecting Italy's culture from depredation.

In his previous incarnation as an under-secretary at the Ministry of Culture, the sleek and youthful Vittorio Sgarbi was once described as treating his ministerial duties as a "one-man dadaist performance".

A former professor of art history with a deep and visceral disdain for most things modern, Mr Sgarbi's behaviour was unlike that of a typical under-secretary.

He labelled one modern art show "excremental", said unspeakable things about Richard Meier, one of America's leading modern architects, and tried to stop him building a museum around the ancient temple of Augustus in central Rome.

He let fly at the project by Japan's greatest modern architect, Arata Isozaki, to build a modernist extension to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and succeeded in having it cancelled.

Mr Sgarbi quit Silvio Berlusconi's government on acrimonious terms, but this week announced he is planning a comeback with his Party of Beauty and Reason.

The party's first poster is a sharp dig at Mr Berlusconi, who in December last year had plastic surgery to remove bags and wrinkles on his face. Alongside a photograph of Mr Sgarbi the poster reads: "We don't need a facelift." The co-founder of the party with Mr Sgarbi is Giorgio La Malfa, 65, the son of Ugo La Malfa, one of the founders of Italy's first republic after the war.

Mr La Malfa succeeded his father as the leader of the small Italian Republican Party, but has been out of the limelight for the past decade.

But his bloodline and experience of the centre of Italian politics lends Mr Sgarbi's new venture credibility.

Mr Sgarbi quit the government over plans by the Minister of Culture to sell off many of Italy's thousands of cultural assets to the highest bidder. Protecting and fostering the nation's heritage is the single issue on which the party will campaign. Mr Sgarbi has said: "If you see the destruction of the Great Buddhas by the Taliban, one has to say, 'The barbarians are also here'."

He says that the party's slogan will be "Save Italy with me" and he is hoping that the theme will chime with voters in the same way that the Greens came to prominence, in Italy and elsewhere, in the 1980s.

Mr La Malfa, commenting on the striking difference of profiles between him and Mr Sgarbi said: "This will be the most diverting political campaign of the past 20 years. I speak little, he quarrels with everybody. We have fused our different hours of business, I go to bed when he gets up; this means we don't quarrel, and we are in business 24 hours a day."

Comments