Friday, October 7

The ‘red’ resistance of the Italian centre-left

Aboubakar Soumahoro, an Ivorian by birth, speaks Italian with an echo of the south. He 23 years ago he did not speak anything. He learned it by working for years in the fields as a day laborer. He then became a trade unionist, graduated in Sociology and, in August 2020, created the Seasons League, a network to give a voice to day laborers, ‘riders’ and other exploited workers. Soumahoro thus became one of the main champions of a group that today in Italy is somewhat more visible and better organized than it was years ago. In this way, this 42-year-old African, today a naturalized Italian, also gained a certain national projection in the country; so much so that, for the Italian elections on September 25, Soumahoro has been candidate for the center-left in Modenathe capital of Emilia Romagna.

The paradox is that if Soumahoro’s story is a history of resistancethe same can be said of Emilia Romagna. Not only because on this earth there was a partisan movement fortissimo during World War II and the Italian Communist Party came to sweep, even when in the rest of the country won the Christian democracy. Also because, beyond a few cracks, modern social democracy and its greatest representative in Italy, the Democratic party (PD), as well as its allies on the left, have maintained a long-standing consensus here that has cracked little so far. There were attempts, yes. The last: in 2020, when the leader of the far-right League, Matteo Salvinibrought out all his political arsenal to conquer the regional government of Emilia Romagna, which caused citizens to come out en masse to vote to defeat him.

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Centre-left strongholds

The result of this is that much of this region, and the nearby Tuscany, could be, after the general elections, the only areas of Italy still in the hands of the Italian centre-left. The only ones in which the advance of the right wing coalition who leads the post-fascist Brothers from Italy. In the maps that illustrate the forecast of the voting intention for the next Italian elections It is very clear: while in almost the entire country the forecast is for a comfortable victory for the right, in a large part of these two regions the victory of the center-left is considered ‘armored’.

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence Enrico Lettathe leader of the PD, was born in Pisa, an important tourist city in Tuscany, and that the party’s candidate for prime minister, the Italian-American elly schleinhas spent much of his political career in Emilia Romagna.

“Sure, here’s a entrenched anti-fascist culture very present in society”, says Carlo Bracetti, Professor of Political Science at the University of Florence. “Although a very important element that also coincides with this protracted success of the center-left is that here a central role has continued to be given to the defense of the rights of the working class and workers in general,” warns this expert.

Where there is a better distribution of wealth, there are fewer social conflicts. And well-being has been –and is– in Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. The first is the third region with the highest GDP (after Lombardy and Veneto) of Italy, and its unemployment rate is 5.5% (the national rate is 7.9%). In the second, the wealth of families in the period of the pandemic has even grown slightly, according to the latest report from the Bank of Italy. “Also the presence of migrant workers it is perceived in a more favorable way than in other parts of the country”, affirms Bracetti. There is an answer to the reason for the candidacy of Soumahoro, the Ivorian trade unionist.

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Cooperatives and SMEs

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Giuditta Pini, an outgoing PD deputy from Modena, was 29 years old when she first won a seat in the Italian Congress. According to her, the prosperity of these territories and their link with the center-left is also explained by “the fabric of cooperatives and small and medium enterprises that here they have always been an important part of the local economy, and that now they have also resisted the pandemic, ”he explains.

In some cases, in addition, the turn of some town to the right has also coincided with new turbulence. The most recent example is that of the current political battle in Piombino (Tuscany), where citizens are fiercely opposed to the installation of a regasification vessel proposed by the outgoing Government of mario draghi to face the energy crisis. A fight that is also supported by the current right-wing mayor Francesco Ferrari, curiously, only two years ago in charge of this city after 70 years of progressive governments.

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