Finally I know what it feels like to be part of a group of foreigners used as scapegoats in an election campaign. It feels weird. Despite being aware that they are not targeted against me personally, I always feel affected by these election posters when I walk past them:
“Europeans not Germans”, this is the slogan chosen by Italia dei Valori (“Italy of Values”) to compete for votes in the European elections of 2014. This is not even a right-wing or generally xenophobic party (of which there are a few in Italy as well), but a rather left-leaning liberal party, founded by Antonio Di Pietro, one of Italy’s most well-known prosecutors, who himself had lived and worked in Germany for two years as a young man. Italia dei Valori currently hold 7 of Italy’s 73 seats in the European Parliament, so they are not some irrelevant splinter group either.
As a German living in Italy, I feel queasy in light of these posters. Somehow, it’s a strange situation to sit in the park, to talk with Italians and to tell them that I am from Germany (which I cannot hide due to my accent when speaking Italian) while on the billboard behind us, anti-German slogans poison the political discourse.
If a party picks such a slogan, they must assume that there is actual anti-German resentment. Now I am insecure whether among all the Italians who approach me in a very friendly way, there might be some who would much rather have me deported. Thus far, it has only happened twice that Italians (of the young kind who probably think of themselves as modern and cosmopolitan, by the way) insulted me based on my origin, once with the famous “Nazi kapo” insult which Martin Schulz once had to suffer from Silvio Berlusconi. “Why don’t you go back to Germany” is the sentence which is then always dropped, which is not only particularly anachronistic in a united Europe, but which is even more out of place in my case, not having lived in Germany for 5 years, than it would be if hurled against German tourists. But the tourists don’t need to worry because by the time the main holiday season will kick off, the posters for the European elections will have disappeared again.
(Diesen Artikel gibt es natürlich auch auf Deutsch.)