Correspondent in Rome
The division and rivalry of the leaders of the center right, unable to choose suitable candidates, leads them to a clear defeat in the first turn of the elections held on Sunday and Monday in 1,200 Italian municipalities, including the four largest cities, Roma, Milan, Naples and Turin, in addition to Bologna. The center left wins a notable victory.
It has already conquered, with its candidate exceeding 50%, Milan, Naples and Bologna, and it is ahead in Turin, with a high probability of conquering it in the second round, within two weeks. The battle is still open in Rome, where the center-left candidate, former economy minister Roberto Gualtieri, of the Democratic Party (PD), also has a chance to win in the second round. If this is confirmed, which remains to be seen, the result in the big cities would be 5-0 in favor of the center left.
The center-right has been forced to criticize itself, whose leaders chose unknown candidates late and badly, with no managerial experience and no political weight. “There is no excuse,” he said. Matteo Salvini, leader of the League-. Where it was lost, it was lost because of our demerits. The united center-right wins but we have to unite it seriously.
Especially and significant is the defeat of the center-right in Milan, where it has traditionally ruled. The candidate of the center left, the manager Giuseppe Sala, obtained more than 56% of the votes, very prominent of the candidate of the center right, Luca Bernardo, an unknown doctor personally chosen by Matteo Salvini, with the support of the Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia, who remain at 32%.
In the center left offers Enrico Letta, secretary of the Democratic Party (PD), the main party of the center-left, who has described the result as a “great success” of the center-left and in particular of his party. Letta has been the winner of these elections because she sought unity. He intends for the PD to be the reference party of the left, to which the 5-Star Movement would be added in electoral appointments, now led by the former prime minister Giuseppe Conte.
They did so in Naples, where the center left with the PD and the M5E has swept away: their candidate has obtained 65% of the votes, compared to 20.5% for the center right. The Neapolitans wanted change after ten years of a left-wing mayor, the former magistrate Luigi De Magistris, a radical populist.
The leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, tried to succeed Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Forza Italia, to federate the center right, but he has clearly failed and is the great loser of these municipal elections. He wanted the Northern League to be called only the League, because he wanted to turn it into a national party, the National League. But it has proven unable to take root in the south. It has been clearly seen in the failure obtained in Naples.
The results of the center-right have surely been influenced by two scandals in the last days of the campaign in the League and in the Brothers of Italy.
Salvini has been weighed by the drug and sex feast he had with two gay men at his home in Verona Luca Morisi, right arm of the leader of the League as head of communication. Morisi was the founder of what he himself called ‘the Beast’, a strategic communication machine that contributed to Salvini’s political success thanks to the conquest of millions of followers on social networks. ‘The Beast’ attacked and directed many of his campaigns against drug addicts, against foreigners and homosexuals.
In the case of the Brothers of Italy, a journalistic investigation revealed with many hours of video recording alleged illicit financing of the party, the apology of fascism and the frequentations of racist and anti-Semitic circles, which caused the self-suspension of the head of the delegation of Brothers from Italy to the European Parliament, Carlo Fidanza, while the Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation. The leader of the party, Giorgia Meloni, defends himself by pointing out that it has been a setup against his formation.
The populism of the 5 Star Movement, which conquered Rome five years ago with Virginia Raggi and Turin with Chiara Hangers, has been defeated: in the capital of Piedmont it has completely disappeared, while in the Italian capital, where Raggi won in 2016 with 70% of the votes, now only 20% of the Romans voted, generally fed up with his mismanagement. He was unable to bring order to a town hall with 23,000 employees, with permanent serious problems, especially in transport and garbage collection.
In truth, Rome has been mismanaged by recent mayors, both on the right and on the left. Perhaps that is why the success of a civic list headed by the former Minister of Economic Development has been surprising. Carlo Calenda, with managerial skills, who has obtained 20% of the votes, without any political force behind to support him.
Analysts consider that this data reflects the weakness that traditional parties have in Italy today. These results will not affect the Government of Mario Draghi, or in any case it will be reinforced.
The prime minister ignores the background noise of the parties, which have shown their weakness in these elections. The parties trust him, because he always acts with the interests of the country in mind.