Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is changing tune – literally.
The embattled Italian leader has changed his political party's anthem in an apparent effort to soften his image ahead of the regional elections, scheduled for March 28 and 29.
The earlier People of Freedom Party anthem, which was used during the campaign for last year's general elections, went “Menomale che Silvio c'è”, which roughly translates into “Thank God that Silvio exists."
Soon, countless parodies appeared on the Internet, including “Io sto male se Silvio c'è” ("I feel sick when Silvio is around") and a popular spoof video attributing the original lyrics to Paris Hilton and a number of starlets from Berlusconi-owned commercial TV stations.
Some took this campaign slogan as the ultimate expression of Berlusconi's oversized ego and his Freedom People's tendency toward becoming a personality cult.
After all, this flamboyant media tycoon and onetime cruise-ship crooner has compared himself to Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi. When he entered politics in 1994, he claimed to be “appointed by God.”
But the new anthem seems to be a step away from that, and Italian analysts say Mr. Berlusconi is hoping to recraft his image into that of a team player. The new anthem's refrain has shifted from “Thank God that Silvio exists” to “Thank God that we [the Freedom Party] exist.”
To be sure, Most Italians however haven't seemed to mind the anthem until now. The “Thank God that Silvio exists” refrain led his party to a landslide victory in 2008, and the prime minister is still quite popular despite the recent sexual and legal scandals.
So why is Berlusconi changing his anthem now?
According to Libero, a conservative newspaper that broke the news on Tuesday with a front-page editorial, he is trying to build bridges after an attack that left him with a broken nose and two fractured teeth two weeks ago.
“This attack signals a fracture in the nation's collective imagination,” wrote Libero. “The difference is that Berlusconi has understood it, while the opposition has not.”
According to the conservative paper - which, unlike others, is not owned by the Berlusconi family, but is considered to be very close to the prime minister - “Silvio wants a transition from the first person to the collective, from the solo to the team, from the violin to the orchestra.”