The Rumble in La Sala Borsa: U.S. Election Night 2017 in Bologna

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On a busy Tuesday night, several hundred individuals Italians, Americans and foreigners gathered in La Sala Borsa to watch the United States presidential election results and comment on the two candidates: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The Democrats Abroad chapter of Bologna organized the election night event. Democrats Abroad is an organization that mobilizes American expatriates to vote in their respective elections (e.g. presidential, congressional, local, etc.). The American expats came out that night in high numbers, but so did the students.

Students from the University of Bologna, Springhill College and other universities flooded the aisles, finding refuge on the floor when all of the seats were filled.

“I think there is one choice,” commented Tom, 22, a New Zealand native and UNIBO student, in regards to the U.S. presidential election candidate selection. “Nowhere else in the world do you get such diverse candidates.”

The speakers, who hailed from the press and universities, spoke past midnight about each candidate’s strengths, weaknesses and takes on foreign policy. Among some of the speakers were SAIS professors John Harper and David Ellwood.

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Spring Hill College professor Alia Nardini speaks on American politics

Although most SAIS students were not physically present at Sala Borsa that night, they were present in spirit. At the same time as the Sala Borsa event, SAIS Europe students were celebrating the election frenzy at the Via Belmeloro campus with political trivia and live election coverage.

Many students at Sala Borsa were nervous about the future of populism, with regards to a potential Donald Trump presidency.

“Populism one of the most dangerous things because politicians use fear to lead [people] where they want,” regarded Salvatore, 25, another UNIBO student. “In Italy, we have Salvini a little Trump because he uses this fear … to get the power.”

As the election night carried on, the results seemed less clear for each candidate. Many of the non-Americans did not understand how an election could be this close between two, such different candidates.

Dr. Nardini, a Springhill College professor, spoke in Italian about the legacy of American politics to the audience that night. She examined the differences between the candidates and explained the political machine in the U.S.

“It’s been interesting,” spoke Dr. Nardini in an interview about the presidential campaigns. “A lot of disunity in politics. A lot of money from people outside of politics. New rules. Not as much passion as in 2008.”

Chloe is a contributor/writer for the SAIS Observer. She is a second-year conflict management concentrator at SAIS Europe.

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