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Italian regional elections: An overview September 28, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A very welcome post from GregTimo

Italian regional elections (held over 20-21st September, 2020)

Democratic party (PD) leader Zingaretti is the masked figure waving in the left- neoliberal/centre-left Repubblica lead article here.

See also for map of regions (leading to specific results) .

There is a messy Wiki in english of results so far this year (leading on to regional Wikis) .

7 regions were up for grabs, the centre-left (now including 5 star in Liguria in the north) held 3 and lost one, while the right solidified control of the remaining 3 (A referendum to drastically cut the number of parliamentarians was simultaneously approved by a large margin). My understanding is limited by having to use translation services .

Prelude; In January the PD led centre left ( centro-sinistra ) coalition held Emilia Romagna (home of the now questionable Emilian (co-operative) Economic model started under the once dominant (Euro)Communist Party (PCI, that title now hijacked by a remnant Stalinist sect afaik) whose continued importance is argued over elsewhere) . After months of street mobilisation by left inclined youth movement Sardines, a Lega threat was repulsed. No one was sure how these elections would go either, with such a mobilisation not possible for one, and polls again predicting close results in 2 of 4 centre left bastions Tuscany and Puglia. Marche in the east was written off due local factors afaik (5 star insisted on their own list for one, there is no transferable vote system, but a complicated mix of 1st past the post and d’Hondt Pr), with only Campania around Naples thought safe.

The populist extreme right consist of 2 parties, Lega descended from the separatist Lega Nord which once included supposed left nationalists like Salvini himself, and Brothers of Italy (FDL) descended from the neo-fascist MSI, strongest in the centre and south.

These 2 now dominate the so called ‘centre-right’ (centro-destra ) coalition, in fact Bersucloni’s Forza Italia and the older centre-right fragments are now just minor players, but a confusing factor is the lists of personalities like that of Lega’s Zaia, President of Veneto.

The centre-left also resorts to these personality lists, the PD’s DeLuca in Campania being the most significant.

On the preliminary exit polls the reporting paper above called it a draw (increased turnout due the extended voting and the close opinion polling may have saved them again?). Despite further increases for the extreme right, the centre left help the 2 most important regions in doubt Tuscany and Puglia (the latter without Renzi’s centrist party or 5star which were nice if small bonuses for them).

However the extreme right solidified their marginal control of the once centre-left Liguria around Genoa in the North and gained the long centre-left Marche (along the East coast) as well as holding Veneto by a landslide due personal popularity of the Lega leader Zaia, seen as a competent Salvini opponent within Lega. Valle D’Aosta a minor region in the north has it’s own localist politics (leaning well right wing afaik) which were strong in addition to the pop ext right Lega.

Again on the bright side, the centre left held Campania around Naples by a competing landslide. However the local PD president (the former communist) DeLuca courted the old centre-right vote big time (judging by his crediting them after the result) .
The overall result should secure Zingaretti’s (compared to Ed Milliband by Jacobin, see below) leadership of the (in part) communist tradition Democratic Party (PD) as the arch-neoliberal Renzi’s party flopped badly in regions where they ran in opposition to the main centre left (Puglia and Liguria) . The far left who ran 3 competing lists in Tuscany lost their last and only regional council seat there afaik. Their incoherence continues (see also the Jacobin Italia complaints below).

Despite their populist referendum gambit of reducing the size of the legislature passing with a large margin, it didn’t help them retain support, and 5 star are reduced to a minor party (as polls predicted). Unfortunately even where they joined with the PD in Liguria, Lega could not be stopped (it can be guessed Lega took a lot of their old support). Where they competed they were mostly reduced so far into single digits % as to not make a difference. Municipal council election were held as well, the analysis of which is beyond me as yet.


Alternative coverage at the (sort of) old libertarian communist paper ‘Il Manifesto’. It allows 3 free reads every 5 days if you are registered and has a weekly English edition (the latter isn’t good on Italy though) . It seems to agree with the assessment of the centre-left Repubblica in the main.

However the complete lack of excitement on both Jacobin’s main and Italian outlet is striking (compared to their close observing of the US and UK elections), As much coverage was given to the death of an old communist founder of Il Manifesto (also with Il Manifesto), and a not great piece on the coinciding referendum was written by someone in Australia. Paulo Gerbaudo an academic in the UK now, speculates on what the future might bring along with a scattering of other seeming desultory pieces. Some embarrassed bemoaning of the far left’s incoherent strategy while hoping for the emergence of ‘Democratic Socialism’ Corbyn or Sanders style.

This translation of a desultory piece concentrating on Zingaretti last year might be summed up by ‘at least he’s not Renzi, but’. The long depression of much of the Italian left is yet to be lifted. I hope they can find some room for hope in the results.

Somewhat late analysis in Italian which hopefully will be better translated than Google Translate can manage on the English site soon . It talks about the continued disarray of the Left of the left/far left (my understanding is far from complete, but a very muddled situation with 2 stalinistic ‘communist’ parties, a Trotskyist dominated coalition PAP that previously was wider, and a more reformist Sinistra Italia in places which is a remnant of the once sizeable Refondizione Communista which split with the neoliberalised side of the PCI who now exist in the PD. More ‘soft left’ bits appear to be in the centre-left coalition if not in the PD, but some of the harder left may have joined too). The loss of their last regional seat is confirmed (in Tuscany) and explained as a combination of tactical voting for the center-left and pointless sectarian lists/vote splitting. A yearning for better tactics is expressed but there does not seem any solid ideas on that front as they seem caught between working in the center-left and working outside it. On the wider front the extension of the great leader conundrum (personalization of politics exacerbated by the Pandemic) to Italian regional elections is examined.


1. WorldbyStorm - September 28, 2020

That Refondizione Communista split was something else. The left of the PDS just doesn’t seem to have recovered from it whatsoever.

Liked by 1 person

Fergal - September 28, 2020

Why is the Emilia-Romagna cooperative economy questionable?


Paul Culloty - September 28, 2020

Maybe something lost in the translation, and it’s the right questioning the model, rather than the model itself being questionable?


Fergal - September 28, 2020

Thanks Paul C! It’s one of my last unshattered ‘illusions’ left in this world! Real socialism if you ask me… not Cuba or North Korea! 😂


Colm B - September 28, 2020

The collapse of the far left in Italy, caused by Refondazione joining a centre left coalition gov which then implemented neoliberal policies, should be a salutary lesson for the Irish far left. Entering gov with social democrats or social liberals spells doom for radical left parties. Even if you don’t see this as a principle, pragmatism leads to the same conclusion.

In Portugal and Denmark, the radical left has managed to avoid this fate by giving critical support to SD govs from outside when necessary, pushing the gov left whilst maintaining their independence.

Liked by 3 people

2. gregtimo - September 30, 2020

Fergal, never had time to figure out the Emilian Model thing , But I have questioned it because of going on completely opposite claims/narratives. The 1st showing a big decline in Co-ops up to 2002 (in Italian, but just look at the tables) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/46459307_The_Emilian_Model_Revisited_Twenty_Years_After
The 2nd claiming that it is thriving (and Italy wide too). It could be that 2 person partnerships have been lumped in with Co-ops confusing the picture, or maybe it sort of spread outwards while declining locally ? Maybe it had a re-surge, but that seems unlikely to me in neo-liberal times. Maybe it is just that still relatively strong , that it still looks good from far away (as with the Swedish model up til recently. That’s still confusing Jacobin magazine online too)


3. gregtimo - September 30, 2020

Colm I think it’s more complicated. AFAIK Refondazione (as with the Portugese Bloco) were copying the Scandinavian Left tactics (they didnt join the government either in fact) . The leader was controversial for starters and accused of something akin to ‘champagne socialism’ if his Wiki is to believed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fausto_Bertinotti
. Think it was a stage in the ongoing collapse of an old ‘hegemony’ . A long process of the decay of belief/subculture resulting in an eventual meltdown and then squabbling ever since . A rough analogy with the old mining towns in England . Also the electoral system (reformed backwards from pure Pr in the interests of ‘stability’) made it harder for parties outside the big blocs . Anyhow the present danger surely means pragmatists should join the centre-left bloc as the extreme right is on course to win an overall majority no problem


Colm B - September 30, 2020

But the Portuguese and Danish examples are qualitatively different, they have successfully forced the SD govs left, without compromising themselves and largely preserving their anti-capitalist position. The old Scandinavian left (SPP in Denmark, SLP in Norway and LP in Sweden) have all effectively been social democratic parties for a long time, despite their dissident/reform communist origins – they have all formed part of centre left govs and have no ambitions for anything more radical.

The points you make about Refondazione are valid but it doesn’t take away from the bare fact – if a radical left party joins a centre left or social liberal gov they either cease to be radical left or just cease to be. There’s no logical reason a social democratic or social liberal party would stay out of gov as that is at the heart of their politics: to enter gov and implement reforms (sometimes) in the context of capitalism. An anti-capitalist party aspires to replacing capitalism and you can’t replace capitalism and run it at the same time.


4. gregtimo - October 1, 2020

Apologies , the 2002 economic analysis is in English not Italian (I had just skimmed it and forgotten). The author, economics academic Rinaldi was associated with the local ‘Democratic Party’ back in 2015. If anything he sounds on the Left side http://www.pdmodena.it/2015/02/02/pd-san-lazzaromo-est-domenica-lon-galli-parla-di-sinistra/
In the analysis above (also below), he talks about the neo-liberalizing affects of the transformation of the bulk of the PCI into the ‘Democratic Left’ (as it was called for a while) on the economic model and the bad affects of rising crime from the weakening of solidarity and so on . Again I havent had time to read it in detail, but he concludes
‘At the same time, the transformation of the ruling party from the PCI into the PDS and then the DS brought about a change in the governing style marked by an increased involvement of business associations in both formulating and managing industrial policies. As a
result, these progressively shifted towards a market-driven, neo- liberal approach, focusing on more structured firms rather than on industrial districts. Yet, the limits involved in this model of governance risk to undermine the region’s capacity to undertake an effective industrial policy for artisan and smaller firms – which would need it the most to upgrade their technological and organisational capabilities – and, more generally, proactive and path-shaping policy formulations.


5. gregtimo - October 1, 2020

Colm it’s beyond my (anything near complete) understanding. The Danish SPP was in part transplanted by the ‘Red-Green’ Enhedlisten I know (though the SPP rebounded/re-branded as a Green party, allied with the Euro-Greens) which was/is seen as ‘anti-capitalist’, but they ally with the Swedish ‘Left Party’ a party which is like a combo of both and maybe more like the German Die Linke. The Swedish party is quite some muddle to figure out if you read their spiel and meagre associated media. Especially with the Assagne controversy. The lawyer of the 2 women, (BORGSTRÖM who died in May, still given regard as a feminist advocate) joined them and became an MP . The former communist Flamman is the only media outlet I know associated with them and is thin gruel as far as I can make out, though it appears to be slightly to the left if anything (on Assagne they debated with Borgstrom, but couldnt make minds up) http://flamman.se/ . Again on the current Covid lack of lockdown which cost Sweden so many more dead that their neighbours they couldnt seem to take a decisive stance, which was worse (at least they highlighted the nursing home debacle as with ourselves) . On brightside they are honest not to have all the answers, but I get the impression the Swedish left is among the more indecisive (but I find it very hard to make sense of a lot of stuff too in this going on post Truth reality) . Nevertheless they retain about 9-10% support in ongoing polling



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