“The PD is in excellent form. I will go on a tour across Italy to support all our candidates in the runoffs.” Elly Schlein sees the glass as half full after the first round of the local government elections: “We are the first party in almost every city where votes were cast.”
Out of 13 capitals, the Dems were first in 9, behind FdI only in Latina, Teramo and Terni, and behind the Lega in Treviso. In particular, the PD was first in some cities that will vote in runoffs on May 28 and 29, such as Ancona, Pisa, Siena, Vicenza and Brindisi. The average take by the party was 16.6 percent, with highs of 26.6 percent in Brescia, and lows of 9.3 percent in Teramo, where, however, PD Mayor Gianguido D’Alberto won election in the first round.
The Dems will go to runoffs in six cities, but not in Terni, where candidate Josè Maria Kenny didn’t qualify. In a press conference on Tuesday, Schlein said she aimed to win all of these contests: “These numbers give us momentum and confidence to get a running start for the runoffs,” she explained. “The conditions are in place for us to win. The right is slowing down – even those who voted for them are beginning to realize that they are incapable of implementing the NRRP, that they’re bringing more precariousness and weakening health care and public schools.”
The PD leader says she’s ready to make alliances for the runoffs, both with the M5S and the former Third Pole. “With all forces that are alternative to the right,” clarified local branches leader Davide Baruffi. Schlein points in particular to the votes of those who abstained, those who have become resigned “and no longer believe that politics can change their living conditions.”
“We have to get to where we haven’t managed yet, it will be a long road to recover the trust of these people.”
As for the alliances for the runoffs, Barugfi explained that “there will be no dictates coming down from above” and that “we will put the same effort towards all cities.” That includes Brindisi, where candidate Roberto Fusco is from the M5S. So is the candidate for the Molise regional election to be held on June 25 and 26, Campobasso Mayor Roberto Gravina.
It was a clear signal to Giuseppe Conte: “We support the candidates who seem to us to have the highest chances, irrespective of the party to which they belong.”
Schlein went even further: “There is full willingness to set up joint initiatives with the leaders of the allied parties.” This has not been the case in recent weeks: Conte and Schlein have avoided doing a rally together even when they were in the same cities on the same day.
Baruffi wanted to damp down any overenthusiasm and urged caution: “We are not facing a political turning point, but after two heavy defeats like those in the political and regional elections in Lombardy and Lazio, we can say that now it’s a very different game. And that the PD is confirmed as the fulcrum of the alternative to the right-wingers.”
In the last round, the center-right had won 8 out of 13 cities, the center-left only 5. “The starting situation was not a simple one,” Baruffi explained, “but we won two cities in the first round, Brescia and Teramo, and we are going to the runoff in six capitals.” All are “open challenges” and will be fought “to the last vote.” Including in Ancona, “where we’re down by 4 points, but we have more room to grow than the right-wingers.” And, importantly, “in this first round, no ‘Meloni effect’ was seen, not even where the premier has been campaigning, like in Brescia.”
In Ancona, the right-wing candidate Silvetti is at 45.1 percent and Ida Simonella of the PD at 41.2 percent. But there are other progressive forces, such as those supporting the left-wing civic candidate Francesco Rubini at 6.1 percent and M5S candidate Enrico Sparapani at 3.6 percent.
The Dems have some problems to solve in the selection of parliamentary group vice presidents. Tuesday marked the second postponement in a week of the parliamentary group meetings to nominate the deputies Chiara Braga and Francesco Boccia. The thorny issue is the Chamber, where doubts have emerged over the confirmation of Piero De Luca after tensions between Schlein and his father Vincenzo over a third term in Campania.
Among the viable candidates for that role is Valentina Ghio, from the internal left wing of the party. In the Senate, there is a need to find a replacement for Alessandro Alfieri, who has been nominated as manager for secretariat reform. Vying for that role in the Senate are the Catholic Alfredo Bazoli and Antonio Nicita, very close to former secretary Letta and a member of that area of neo-leftists that broke ties with Bonaccini.