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An Odd Chastisement

Well, it is often seen that political leaders make various promises to people, especially ahead of elections. Once the election is over, they ignore the majority of those promises. Unfortunately, voters have to wait for a certain period of time in Democracy to punish those politicians for not fulfilling their promises. Of course, they can reject those leaders in the next election. However, there is a city where political leaders get punished immediately for breaking their promises.

Residents of the tiny northern Italian city of Trento enjoy the right to punish political leaders for making false promises. As per this custom called Tonca, residents bring a leader to a river, if s/he fails to carry her/his responsibilities. Then, they put the politician in a cage and dunk her/him in a river for a second in order to make the person realise her/his mistake.

People, residing in Trento, believe that elected leaders would work for the society, care for welfare, come up with policies, address major issues and deliver on their promises. Else, they would learn a lesson.

Tonca is a part of the Vigilian celebrations that Trento celebrates in the second half of June every year. Interestingly, the dipping of politicians, which is called the Court of Penitence, is one of the main events during the celebrations. Traditionally, it takes place on the last Sunday before June 26. In 2022, residents of Trento organised Tonca on June 19. According to locals, this custom is aimed at sensitising politicians about their accountability.

Trento is the third largest city in the Alps and the second largest in the historical region of Tyrol.

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