It was smiles and jubilation all round in many parts of Italy on Monday, as the second round of local elections confirmed a ‘wind of change’ in Italian society and politics with crushing defeat of Berlusconi’s PdL candidates in most places, both in elections for city Mayor and provincial councils. Italians, it would seem, have finally had enough of Berlusconi and his bunga-bunga politics.
The most important win of all was in Italy’s business capital Milan, where incumbent Mayor Letizia Moratti was outvoted by left-wing lawyer Giuliano Pisapia (pic. right), the ‘quiet man’ whose understated style and attitude is the complete opposite of Berlusconi’s arrogance, and in the end won him the day. Mr. Pisapia, the anti-Berlusconi, got through with 55% of the votes. Silvio had warned voters that the city would be invaded by “communists, Muslims, gypsies and homosexuals”, a threat to their “freedom”, but the majority had clearly had enough of sex and corruption scandals, cuts in social services, and an ever worsening economic situation to worry about such empty rhetoric.
The same was true in many other cities throughout the country, where the pro-Silvio PdL mayors were ousted by new left wing candidates such as the relative youngster Massimo Zedda (pic. left) in Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital. Major centre-left wins were also registered in Trieste and Pordenone with first round wins already consolidated a fortnight ago in Bologna, Rimini and Lucca. ..and no sign of gypsy camps or minarets yet.
Berlusconi’s main ally Lega Nord also suffered badly and lost votes in many northern strongholds such as Novara, Domodossola and the province of Mantova. Party spokesmen immediately blamed the defeat on a self-centred Silvio.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all came from Italy’s ever troubled city Naples, where Luigi De Magistris (pic. right) came in first with a crushing 65% of the vote over his centre-right Berlusconi-backed opponent. The new mayor, a candidate of the Italia de Valori party, had made it to the second round even without the support of the main opposition Partito Democratico. “Naples has been freed,” he declared. He now faces a huge ‘clean-up’ task in the city, both metaphorically and literally as refuse continues to pile high in the streets.
Opposition spokesman speak boldly of ‘winds of change’ and ‘freedom at last’. Inevitably, many are now calling for Berlusconi’s resignation from government after the local election failures. The PM is of course having none of it, and stated that his defeat would only serve to strengthen his efforts ‘threefold’. Government forces face a further test on June 12th when Italians are asked to vote once more in no less than four national referendums. Although a low quorum is always a risk, especially in the holiday period, although one referendum on the sticky nuclear power question may prompt many to make a special effort, go in to vote and once more defeat the ruling powers.
The beginning of the end of the Berlusconi period is already well underway.