Municipal elections in Italy: Rome, a thermometer of Italian politics | International

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Italy will measure between this Sunday and Monday the balance of forces in a country where politics has been frozen since Mario Draghi became president of the Council of Ministers last February. The Unity Executive, focused on a technocratic agenda, has put the mute on the usual skirmishes in Parliament and the systemic attempts to overthrow the government in power. This weekend politics returns and 1,192 municipalities will put the ballot boxes in the first round of the elections to elect their mayors. A decision that must be ratified within two weeks in a second round where the right faces a dire scenario in the five main cities (Rome, Turin, Milan, Bologna and Naples) and the left will rearm in some cities in coalition with Movement 5 Stars (M5S). The photo that comes out of October 14 (date of the second round), especially in the city of Rome, will allow us to decipher some of the great political movements that are coming.

The capital of Italy, the second largest city in Europe (1,285 square kilometers), a monster with a low population density and meager tax collection, has been going through very serious structural problems for decades. The main issues continue to be the failed garbage collection (8,000 workers), obsolete transport, poor maintenance of public roads or the accumulation of delays in public services (the average to bury a relative was 35 days in the month of April). Wild boars roam freely in the streets of some neighborhoods.

Rome is a monster that no one has managed to master since Walter Veltroni was its mayor between 2001 and 2008. It is so complicated that, at times, it seems that the parties prefer not to have to govern it. In June 2016, Virginia Raggi and the 5 Star Movement (M5S) caressed the mayor of Rome in the second round. It was great news. But one of the top leaders of the M5S, Paola Taverna, summed up in a lapidary phrase what the capital of Italy represents for the parties: “There is a plot for us to win the elections. This way they will make us look bad ”. Time, in part, proved him right.

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Raggi, the current mayor, came like a flash of light five years ago to start a city with a seized engine. She was elected with 70% of the votes. But the results of what was the spearhead of the landing of the M5S in the institutions did not arrive and now it has discrete possibilities of going to the second round (which is activated if no one reaches 50.1% of the votes in the first round) . His fall also explains that of his party, which will lose the mayor of Turin (today in the hands of Chiara Appendino) and that of the formation at the national level. The grillinos, in addition, have signed alliances with the Democratic Party (PD) in many cities (Naples or Bologna), but friction in Rome has not allowed it. “Virginia [Raggi] he wanted to present himself and the party did not have enough force at that time to impose a consensus candidate with the PD ”, explains a M5S deputy. His presumed defeat in the first round will reinforce the path of the center-left coalition between the people of Puerto Rico and the PD as the only way to survive in the general elections.

Disaster in Milan

The right-wing coalition (Liga, Forza Italia and Hermanos de Italia) has failed to take advantage of this weak scenario and presented Enrico Michetti, an unknown radio host with nostalgia for the Roman Empire, in Rome. “A huge mistake. The candidate is not up to the task and a victory in Rome would have been crucial ”, explains a deputy of the Brothers of Italy. Michetti is a favorite for the first round, but all combinations would knock him out in the second. In Bologna, Naples and Milan (where the current mayor, the Social Democrat Giuseppe Sala, leads the polls), the results will also be negative.

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The only candidate from the right who seems in a position to seduce the electorate and a part of the economic power by himself is Paolo Damilano, a businessman who is running as the head of the coalition list in Turin. A scenario that will force us to compare the success of the applicants presented by the different partners of the right-wing formations and that will probably leave Matteo Salvini – La Liga leader – even more touched. This week has been terrible for the leader. The Minister of Economic Development and leader of the centrist wing of the party, Giancarlo Giorgetti, destroyed Salvini in an interview in La Stampa. Two days later, it emerged that Luca Morisi, the far-right leader’s digital guru, the man who set his agenda on networks and made him the most followed politician in Europe on the basis of singling out immigrants or politicians for their personal affairs. , had been arrested for giving drugs to two Romanian prostitutes whom he had hired.

The last piece of information that Rome will provide in the municipal elections talks about the viability of a new path of the liberal center in Italy. Carlo Calenda, Minister of Economic Development (2016-2018) with Matteo Renzi as Prime Minister, presents himself with a pragmatic and de-ideologized agenda that has managed to capture the attention of voters despite having hardly any party structure. Reforms, efficiency and work. It gives the feeling that, deep down, he is the only one who really wants to be mayor of the city. And if the experiment works, the universe of Forza Italia, the centrist younger brother of the right-wing coalition – fed up with the nationalist stridencies of Meloni and Salvini – and Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva could take the definitive step to configure a new political spectrum . Political scientist and polling expert Roberto D’Alimonte believes that “there is a space in the center where various parties gravitate in disorder where Calenda could reverse her result even if she was not mayor.” An idea that excites the establishment economy of the country and that would bury four years of populist storm.

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