Another triumph of the right in Italy

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From Rome

In the Italian regional elections this Sunday and Monday in Lombardy -north of the country, where Milan is, the economic heart of Italy- and in Lazio -Rome region and political heart of the peninsula-, the center-right coalition made up of the parties that have participated in the national government since last October: Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (FDI), Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI). The coalition got 54 percent of the vote in Lazio and 55 percent in Lombardy, while the center-left coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) got 34 percent, both in Lazio and Lombardy where it ran alongside to the Five Star Movement (M5S). In Lazio, the M5S ran with other parties and obtained 11 percent of the vote.

The candidate of the League and of the center right, Attilio Fontana, who was the president until now of Lombardy, will remain so after having won these elections. In Lazio, governed until now by the highly respected exponent of the center-left Nicola Zingaretti, the exponent of the center-right, Francesco Rocca, will govern as president.

But if something was feared as a determining component of these results, it was abstentionism, the disinterest of more than 12 million people with the right to vote, which in Italy is not mandatory. Until a few years ago, the electoral influx exceeded 80 percent. This time, only 37 percent showed up in Lazio and 42 percent in Lombardy. In the 2018 regional elections, 67 percent had turned out in Lazio and 73 percent in Lombardy. This speaks of a country that is still suffering a deep social and economic crisis, but also a psychological one since the Covid-19 pandemic more than three years ago, which increased isolation, disinterest and disbelief towards politicians and the future. of the country, the region and the province itself.

In these elections, not only had to choose the president of the regions but also their governing boards. But a second electoral round is not foreseen. as if it is in national political elections. In the regional ones, the candidate for president and the board with the most votes are simply elected.

Many wonder why the centre-left coalitions, led by the PD and the M5S, were so displaced. Between these two parties there have been many differences lately and in Lazio they did not reach an agreement to appear together. Yes they did in Lombardy.

The PD has been experiencing a harsh internal crisis for several months. And in order to reorganize or refound itself, as some want, it is holding debates, congresses and elections in each province and in each region to elect new leaders and discuss the objectives of the party. All this has cost him a high price in terms of popularity and generated a certain imbalance. And for these elections, in addition, they carried out a very limited electoral campaign. However, the PD maintains its level of preferences around the 21 percent that it already obtained in 2018. “I have fought like a lion,” declared in reference to the controversies with the M5S, the center-left candidate in Lazio, D’ Amato- the real loser is the M5S; Conte -president of the M5S- he should reflect ”.

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Winners and losers

Knowing the danger of abstentionism, after having voted on Sunday, the former prime minister and leader of Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi, whose party is part of the right-wing coalition that governs Italy, wanted to remind all the citizens of Lombardy and Lazio that “The vote is not only a right but also a power that citizens have to choose those by whom they want to be governed and thus decide about their own future. Who does not vote, is not a good citizen. Whoever does not vote is not a good Italian ”, he underlined before journalists. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, of the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia, also invited people to vote as they left the electoral headquarters: “these elections are important. Go vote.”

And perhaps thanks -in part- to abstentionism, the right came out the winner. “The abstentionism underlines that 10 years of center-left government have alienated citizens. Our goal is to regain trust and participation”, declared the new president of the Lazio region, Francesco Rocca, who did not mention the crisis triggered by the pandemic.

“It has been a team victory, carried out in a coordinated manner by the entire coalition”, stated Attilio Fontana. “I am very satisfied that the citizens have understood our ability to face difficult times,” Fontana added that he will be president of Lombardy for the second time.

Gianni Cuperlo -candidate for secretary of the PD- said about the fact that the right returns to govern two regions: “only the unity of the oppositions can defeat the right and without the PD, there is no possibility of defeating it. Not understanding this today would be like a political crime.”

Who are Francesco Rocca and Attilio Fontana

Two sociologist candidates ran in these elections, which is quite rare when they are generally lawyers or people with political or administrative experience. One was Mara Ghidozi, a candidate in Lombardy for the left-wing Unión Popular coalition. The second sociologist was the main candidate of the centre-left of Lazio, Alessio D’Amato. The two winning candidates from the right-wing alliance, Francesco Rocca and Attilio Fontana, are lawyers.

Born in Rome in 1965, Rocca has been president of the Italian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He also collaborated with Catholic organizations such as Caritas and the Jesuit refugee service. He has dedicated several years of his career as a lawyer to the fight against the mafia and due to the threats received, he has lived in police custody for some time.

Attilio Fontana, an exponent of the League, was born in 1952 in the Lombard city of Varese where he was mayor for two periods (2006-2016). He was first elected president of Lombardy in 2018. He has a law firm in his hometown that is now run by one of his daughters.

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