“We will meet with Elly shortly to discuss the staffing of the secretariat. I hope it will be unifying, but it’s up to her to put forward a proposal. That would be useful to send a message, the same that emerged very powerfully on Sunday: that we’re working together and we all wear the PD uniform.”
One day after the PD meeting that crowned Elly Schlein as leader, together with Stefano Bonaccini as president (amid a climate of euphoria), the governor of Emilia Romagna was in a very gregarious mood. He was interviewed by Bruno Vespa and then in the Metropolis section of Repubblica.it, and he spoke about all the issues on the agenda – including the new group leaders, on which negotiations between the two have not yet begun.
“It is the secretary who has the right and duty to put forward proposals, although obviously the groups have their own autonomy in decision-making. I think the best solution will be found with figures who command respect.”
He also said he was in favor of adoptions for LGBTQI+ couples, praised Schlein on the minimum wage, expressed his hope for collaboration with other opposition groups, tried to lay down the line on the waste-to-energy plants which he says are “needed,” put out a rallying call for battle in defense of public healthcare and attacked the party’s division into currents: “On Sunday, there was a real attempt to overcome them.” He also called for “making the many Catholics” within the PD “feel at home.” In short, Bonaccini held nothing back, and kept stressing he was available to “lend a hand.”
Not everyone in Schlein’s camp was all that happy at the exuberance of the governor. Not least because on Sunday, in her speech, the new leader tried to carve out a well-defined role for herself, without positioning herself too far to the left: she mentioned the Pope, Mattarella, Prodi and David Sassoli, reiterated that she intends to lead “a left ready for government” and confirmed the pro-arms-delivery line on Ukraine. She also appropriated one of the key lines used by her former primary rival: “With every ‘no’ against this government, we will put forward an alternative proposal.”
It’s certain, however, that the proposal for a “unifying” secretariat (which Bonaccini took upon himself to call for without asking permission from the currents that supported him) will be difficult for her to reject outright. So it’s likely that a couple of names from his wing will eventually join the newly appointed secretary’s team. But they will certainly not be hired sight unseen.
Those who know Schlein closely know that she will personally choose all the names on the team based on a relationship of trust. The names circulating are those of Pina Picierno and Debora Serracchiani, the outgoing Chamber group leader. For the new leaders of the Chamber and Senate groups, on the other hand, there is an impulse towards a complete change, with the posts going to two people from Schlein’s camp. The main figures in the running are Francesco Boccia and Cecilia D’Elia for the Senate and Chiara Braga, Peppe Provenzano or Andrea Orlando for the Chamber of Deputies.
This will be the new leader’s challenge: to hold together the impulse of renewal and radicalism that she promised (and that propelled her to victory) and the need to keep the party united. The former was already on display on Monday, when Sandro Ruotolo, one of the leading names of the new guard, spoke out against the waste-to-energy plant in Rome that Mayor Gualtieri wants to build. On the dilemma between a clear political line and the need for unity, Rosy Bindi said that “Schlein will succeed if a clear line is not sacrificed on the altar of unity.”
The new PD leadership, launched on Sunday at the party’s congress, represents a first attempt to show a new face of the party. Prominent is the absence of former president Matteo Orfini, and very few former Renzians from Base Riformista, from Giorgio Gori to Alessandro Alfieri (Lorenzo Guerini has been re-purposed as chairman of the Joint Committee for the Security of the Republic). Among the new figures, in addition to Mattia Santori and Jasmine Cristallo from the Sardines movement and former Article 1 members (Speranza, Scotto, D’Attorre and Stumpo), there are many women and young people.
They include Mia Diop, 21, a student from Livorno who coordinated volunteers for Schlein and campaigned for ius soli; and Monica Romano, the first transgender woman elected to the Milan city council, who ended up in the news on Monday for calling for a stop to the publication on social media of videos of women pickpockets on the Milan subway (“It’s violence in the guise of civic duty”).
Also among the new additions are the young federation secretaries of Bologna and Genoa, Federica Mazzoni and Simone D’Angelo; Marwa Mahmoud, 35, a PD councilwoman in Reggio Emilia; and Victoria Oluboyo, a city councilwoman in Parma, who has fought on the anti-racist front. A new generation that will have to work with historical bigwigs such as Goffredo Bettini, Livia Turco, Barbara Pollastrini and Susanna Camusso.
“No empty novelty for its own sake, we want to build a bridge between generations,” Schlein said.
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