Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Partito Democratico: born to lose? And what if Renzi were the candidate?

I know I am a little late, but I said that I would write a comment about the Italian elections and I intend to do so. Hundreds of articles have been written; if you want to read a quite opinionated one, the following by The Economist, titled “Send in the clowns” (referring to Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo) can give you a pretty good idea.

Therefore, much has been said about Berlusconi’s comeback and about former comedian Beppe Grillo’s huge success. Less has been said about the poor result of the Partito Democratico (“Democratic Party”), the left-wing party which was considered the favourite and which, according to polls, should have won by a comfortable majority. Why did it only get a miserable 31% then?
In my modest opinion, because Partito Democratico is born to lose. And it seems to do so almost intentionally.
The party held a primary to choose its candidate, and party leader Pierluigi Bersani won against Matteo Renzi, mayor of Florence. 

Pierluigi Bersani and Matteo Renzi

Fair enough, you might think, if Bersani won, he won. True, yet the following thing needs to be considered. The whole party was against Renzi. They tried in every possible way to politically kill him, they even labelled him “Berlusconiano” because he had lunch with Berlusconi once. Why did they hate Renzi so much? Because Renzi has always campaigned for political renewal. If he were PM, he would seriously send home all the old party militants who still sit in Parliament only because of party lists.
So, the party chose to secure seats for its old folks, while blissfully ignoring that there are a lot of people out there who are fed up with old parties and old politicians, and who would have warmly welcomed a young (he is only 38) and energetic candidate such as Renzi.  I think that what people in Italy really wanted was change. And I believe that, if Partito Democratico had pushed for Renzi and supported him as a candidate, today we would have a completely different picture.  
If Renzi were the candidate, a lot of people who voted for Grillo, or who did not vote at all, would have voted for him. I am sure of it, even if a lot of people are, I think, somehow ashamed to admit so. But I have also heard from a lot of friends the sentence “Well I love Renzi and I would have definitely voted for him, but Bersani… oh no, God no”.
But the party greatly underestimated how tired people are. And they literally gave away to Grillo’s movement millions of votes.
As a result, everything is a mess now.  I am not saying that we deserved it, but certainly Partito Democratico did. Let’s see if they learn the lesson now.
As comedian Maurizio Crozza said yesterday, “We are doing really badly now without a government. Almost as much as we did when we had one”.