Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN 2211-4742
  • E-ISSN: 2211-4750
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Politicians often need to appeal to a composite audience characterized by heterogeneous values and beliefs. In order to do so, they turn to techniques of ambiguity that make their positions seem broadly applicable. This essay is an analysis of the rhetorical strategy employed by Silvio Berlusconi in his first Liberation Day speech, which illustrates an example of strategic maneuvering through shifting ideographs in political discourse, a rhetor’s persuasion technique that succeeded in manufacturing consent across an ideologically polarized audience.Strategically shifting ideographs by replacing <Liberation> with <Liberty>, Berlusconi successfully crafted a speech that was received favorably by most of the nation’s political forces. The center-left coalition interpreted the speech positively, describing it as a welcome and unexpected display of bipartisanship because of Berlusconi’s endorsement of the values of the Resistance; the center-right also praised Berlusconi’s speech because they saw it as a historical and partisan revision of Liberation; finally, only the radical extra-parliamentary left harshly critiqued it for what they saw as Berlusconi’s cynical efforts to exploit the celebration.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): composite audience; ideograph; polysemy; strategic ambiguity; strategic maneuvering
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