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Legislative in Italy: facing the far right, the left “plays the counter, without having its Mbappé”

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Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) has spent the past decade playing the role of a safe bet, being a reliable partner in forming a government in times of crisis. But with the approach of the legislative elections on September 25, the party’s inability to take transformative initiatives is helping to demobilize its electorate even as the far right is at the gates of power. In 1998, in his film “Aprile”, Nanni Moretti perfectly illustrated the disappointments aroused by the Italian left. He then embodied a director concerned about the political situation in his country. One of the scenes showed him screaming in front of his television during a televised debate between Silvio Berlusconi and the former leader of the left, Massimo D’Alema, unable to respond to the media mogul’s attacks: “React! Say something React! Say something left! Not even left, but at least something civic!” of a coalition dominated by the extreme right. This is given arch-favorite to win the legislative elections, Sunday, September 25, while left-wing voters are depressed, still waiting to hear “something from the left”.>> “Giorgia Meloni is the novelty” : the far-right leader at the gates of Italian powerAt the Festa dell’Unità in Bologna, a festival organized by the Italian center-left party Democratic Party (PD) in late summer combining politics, culture, gastronomy and more festivities, the crowd did not hide their dismay less than two weeks before the vote. “We are resigned. We are going to lose, there is no hope”, explains Gianluca Marozzi, a writer seated at the Bella Ciao restaurant with his friends, Silvia and Caterina. The trio underlines the inability of the left to address the people and regrets a “drift [du pays] towards extremist opinions”, evoking the success of the far-right candidate and favorite to become the future Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni. The Bella Ciao, held by the National Association of Italian Partisans (ANPI). © Benjamin Dodman, FRANCE 24 “The right plays on people’s fears, they know how to take them in their guts, while we on the left have failed to get our message across”, judge Silvia, while the famous song of anti-fascist resistance fighters “Bella Ciao ‘ resounds in the room. ‘The whole political landscape has drifted to the right’ Italy’s ‘red’ bastion, Bologna should resist the coming right-wing wave. ‘Bologna is still resisting, but the party has chosen a bad candidate for the city, many people find it difficult to support him”, observes Gianluca Marozzi. Senator since 2013, Pier Ferdinando Casini is currently the Italian parliamentarian with the most seniority – he was elected for the first time in 1983. Christian Democrats well, he became the PD candidate, to everyone’s surprise, after having spent most of his political career in the centre-right, regularly forming an alliance with Silvio Berlusconi. Enough to fuel critics who attribute his change of label to opportunism. The decision to choose Casini for the seat of senator for Bologna is particularly criticized among students in the city, which is home to the oldest university in the world. In the Dubcek garden, at the heart of the Faculty of Political Science, Ardalan Baghaesi, a Master’s student, judges this candidacy symptomatic of the PD’s drift to the right. >> To read: “This dissolution is a failure for Draghi but also for Mattarella “The conservatives are doing everything to be more and more to the right, while the left is trying to become more moderate. Suddenly, the whole political landscape has drifted to the right”, notes- he.Many students on the left say they will not vote on September 25 – some in protest at the choice of candidates like Casini, others because of the cost of traveling to their home region, to a country where neither postal nor electronic voting exists. Bologna, known for its sienna-colored walls, is traditionally a bastion of the left. © Benjamin Dodman, FRANCE 24 Asia, a third-year law student, plans to abstain because she believes that essential issues such as the environment, women’s rights, immigration and inequality, in an Italy divided between a A rich North and a poor South are not sufficiently treated. “The left is afraid to talk about immigration when it should be taking it over and solving the problems”, she says. For Ardalan Baghaesi, it is the question of global warming, in particular after a summer marked by the drought and forest fires, which should dominate the debates. “We are living in a historic moment and the PD is failing to come up to the level to propose a model of society that would allow us to move towards a greener economy, he explains. This is costing them many votes among young people “.Enrico Letta, an uncharismatic leaderBeyond the difficulties with young people, the leader of the Democratic Party and former Prime Minister Enrico Letta is going through a complicated electoral campaign. After having done everything to prevent the fall of the government of current Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Enrico Letta had the greatest difficulty in setting up a coalition to face that of Giorgia Meloni. He initially refused to ally himself with the populists of the 5 Star Movement. Then his project of alliance with the centrists fell through when the latter refused to campaign alongside the Greens and far-left parties allied to the PD. To top it off, Enrico Letta has never managed to put forward his program. According to the polls, the alliance formed around the PD is given 15 points behind the right-wing bloc led by Giorgia Meloni, Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini, which could, thanks to the Italian electoral system, obtain a parliamentary majority comfortable enough to be able to modify the Constitution.>> Enrico Letta: “Putin would be the first to be happy with a victory for the right in Italy””The PD is clearly a party of government which remained loyal to Mario Draghi, but which failed to find its place during this campaign”, explains Maurizio Cotta, professor of political science at the University of Siena. “He doesn’t have much to say except to warn voters of the Meloni danger,” he adds. offensive,” said Gianfranco Pasquino, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Bologna. “To play this game, you need good attackers, you need a Mbappé. Except that the left does not have Mbappé in its workforce”, he quips. In fact, Enrico Letta appears as a perfectly decent center-left politician, but lacking in charisma. “Letta is intelligent, capable and reliable, believes Gianfranco Pasquino, who has devoted several books to the Italian left, but he does not know how to go into battle and is not particularly original.”>> Legislative in Italy: the candidate for extreme right Giorgia Meloni launches his campaignA character far removed, for example, from a Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France, whose movement The Popular Union inspired a new formation on the Italian political scene. The former mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, set up a radical left alliance in July, going so far as to adopt the same name: Unione Popolare. The former candidate for the French presidential election traveled to Rome at the beginning of September to support this union. But it will be difficult to break through for the Unione Popolare.”The social, cultural and economic DNA of Italy leans towards conservatism. Unlike France, the place of the Church is still preponderant there. It cannot there be a radical break and Mélenchon in Italy, believes Gianfranco Pasquino. The PD is fully aware of this and knows that it must address moderate voters. “The Democratic Party considered too cautious Problem: its desire to appear as a government party and its caution in the various government coalitions in which it participated prevented the Democratic Party from being a transformative political force. Particularly in terms of LGBT rights or the naturalization of migrant children, according to the specialist of the Italian left. an electoral argument of the type: ‘if you want a law against homophobia, vote for us'”, analyzes Gianfranco Pasquino. This timidity of the Democratic Party was one of the recurring themes at the Festa dell’Unità in Bologna. “Look in Spain, there is a minority socialist government that has made the fight against violence against women a priority. Why can’t we do the same?” asks Silvia at the Bella Ciao restaurant. Italian Communist Party posters from the last century at the Festa dell’Unità in Bologna. © Benjamin Dodman, FRANCE 24 “It’s true that the PD has been rather weak on civil rights. They are afraid of losing the vote of the moderates by being too bold”, adds Vittorio Gaetano, an LGBT activist who also met at the Fête of Unity. The latter fears that a government dominated by the far right will give free rein to insults and homophobic attacks, but does not believe in a drastic backsliding on civil rights. “They can’t reverse the course of history,” he reassures himself. An opinion not necessarily shared by Gianfranco Pasquino, who notably cites anti-abortion measures taken by right-wing regional governments. “Hence the need for the left to be more courageous when it is in power,” he adds. Article translated from English by Romain Brunet. The original version can be found here.

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