Democracy Italian style: The weirdest moments of Italy's election campaign

Democracy Italian style: The weirdest moments of Italy's election campaign

He's back, and this time he's a vegetarian

Last Easter, in an attempt to soften his image as he eyed a return to poltics, Berlusconi took part in an ad promoting vegetarianism that featured him snuggling lambs in soft lighting overlaid with easy listening music. Although Berlusconi is barred from seeking office for another year due to a fraud convinction, a bloc led by his Forza Italia party has been polling strongly.

Democracy Italian style: The weirdest moments of Italy's election campaign

'No one will marry you'

Berlusconi is well known for offensive remarks and belittling women, so it's no surprise he did both in one go on the campaign trail. Earlier in February, he told a BBC journalist that her handshake was too manly; "Otherwise men will think, this one is going to beat me up, and no one will marry you."

Democracy Italian style: The weirdest moments of Italy's election campaign

Win (a date with) Salvini!

Matteo Salvini of the far-right Northern League came up with a humble publicity stunt – whoever likes his Facebook posts can win a chance to take a picture with "the captain", talk to him on the phone, or meet in private. He was lambasted on social media and by Italy's La Repubblica daily, which wrote: "The captain? Even Silvio Berlusconi in his golden age would envy this kind of self-regard."

Democracy Italian style: The weirdest moments of Italy's election campaign

Think about it!

If ex-PM Matteo Renzi was hoping to make a big splash with this tepid ad in which — surprise! — he shows up on a bike and tells a family to "think about" voting for him, then he was certainly successful. Just not perhaps in the way he wanted. The staggeringly lackluster TV spot was parodied countless times on social media.

Democracy Italian style: The weirdest moments of Italy's election campaign

Just us kids

Luigi di Maio of Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) has repeatedly used his age of only 31 to try and connect with younger voters and is prolific on social media. One of his most cringe-worthy attempts to relate to millennial voters came in a video he posted to Instagram in which he said M5S would make Italy "fly high," before "flying" himself in an entertainment complex.

Democracy Italian style: The weirdest moments of Italy's election campaign

Pope: Fake news is like being aroused by feces

After the US election, the Pope warned about the spread of fake news in Italy and its undue influence. He called untrue, sensational stories "the greatest damage the media can do," in an interview with the Catholic weekly Tertio. "I think the media...must not fall into – no offense intended – the sickness of coprophilia," he said, using a more polite term for an abnormal interest in faeces.

Democracy Italian style: The weirdest moments of Italy's election campaign

Prime Minister Oliver?

Comedian and pundit John Oliver brought the tumultous Italian election to the attention of a wider audience in one of his famous TV segments, skewering Berlusconi. Oliver's solution to Italy's unwieldy democracy? Encouraging Italian lawmakers to appoint him: "Incredibly, I am far from your worst option," he joked while cuddling a lamb.

Ahead of parliamentary elections on Sunday, Italy is suffering from a bout of voter apathy. Considering what they've seen on the campaign trail might explain why.