From "bunga bunga" to "pianists" - Italy's political slang

Thu May 16, 2013 6:56pm EDT
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By Naomi O'Leary

ROME (Reuters) - An encyclopedia of Italian political slang has shone a light on a colorful and Byzantine world where lawmakers and journalists speak a language you won't find in any ordinary dictionary.

The confusing nature of Italian politics has come to the fore in recent months, with an electoral result in which the leading party won the lower house but not the senate, a resulting two-month stalemate, and the final formation of a government led by none of the candidates who campaigned.

Here is a selection of the words that best sum it all up in the encyclopaedia 'Il Crollo' ('The Downfall'), compiled by journalist Lorenzo Pregliasco:


The term for a "mysterious sexual ritual" supposedly enjoyed by guests at Silvio Berlusconi's parties. It originated from testimony from the Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, or 'Ruby the Heartstealer', in October 2010.

The phrase became synonymous with Italy's then prime minister, and its viral spread through international media in 2011 accompanied the collapse of both his reputation and the financial markets' trust in Italy's ability to repay its debt.


Originally meaning caste, the word now refers to a clique of politicians keeping a grip on privilege and power. It was a favorite term of the 5-Star Movement that stormed to 25 percent of the vote in its first national election, promising to kick the 'casta' out of parliament.   Continued...

People of Freedom party member Silvio Berlusconi gestures as he makes an address on stage in Brescia May 11, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo