Commentary. I would like it if right after the vote, instead of counting the winners and losers, a real collective dialogue were to open up on the topics of education and the future. I would like for us to break open the cages in which we’re imprisoned.

Everyday politics, and the politics of the future

The projects for a new sustainable development, with a focus on healthcare and the future of young people, should be the first institutional edifices to be raised in the new spaces opening up in Europe. This would be a great test for something that could claim the title of “good politics.”

However, the regional elections and the referendum are drawing near, which bring us closer to the everyday reality of less-good politics.

More and more hard Nos are cropping up, there’s an increasing number of those who don’t want to admit it, due to either shyness or calculation, and we are seeing the extent of the media and real-world powers that have an ulterior motive: to change the direction of the government, or the government itself. In short, the prospect of a massive victory for Yes appears more unlikely. Furthermore, to make any prediction even more difficult, there are also three imponderable and constantly-evolving factors:

  1. The momentum behind the growth of the M5S, put to the test by too sudden growth/the responsibility of being in government, has waned as quickly as it built up.
  2. On the more traditional part of the political spectrum, it has proven impossible to meet the demands of a popular impulse, actually present in society, with even a partial change in the institutional reality of the Parliament and politics. In short, we are once again prisoners of Di Maio’s minimalist populism after Renzi’s maximalist one!
  3. In addition to these two factors that are undermining the value of the referendum, there is also the choice of holding it on the day of the regional elections. A total of 52 million voters will be called to the polls—but 33 million will be called to vote in the referendum alone, and 19 million to vote both in the referendum and the regional elections.

Thus, there is a double motivation for the 19 million to show up at the polls, which will certainly raise the participation in the vote for the referendum as well. Out of the other 33 million, a much smaller proportion will vote. In this way, we might have very different levels of participation, and, if we also take into account the partisan effect that the local vote can have, it is as if two different countries will be voting. It will certainly not be a true and proper national vote, and this diminishes its political value.


Unless, that is, the political climate becomes so overheated that it manages to raise the motivation of the voters and leads people to show up to the polls more than expected, even in regions where the only voting is for the referendum.

And there are already many who are ready to bring us back to square one, reopening all the institutional issues of bicameralism, the electoral system, presidentialism and the notion of the president as “mayor of Italy,” or the majoritarian inclination espoused particularly by those who have done everything to lose their prominence on the political scene.

Might the aftermath of the referendum look like the same movie we’ve already seen, with the same actors? As for myself, I find it hard to see this referendum as a real fight. I think I will vote in accordance with the principles I’ve always had and with the community to which I feel I belong. But, I confess, I will do so with little enthusiasm.

I would like it if right after the vote, instead of counting the winners and losers, a real collective dialogue were to open up on the topics I’ve mentioned at the start—education and the future. I would like for us to break open the cages in which we’re imprisoned, to get out of our shells and release forces and energies that would rise up to the level of the challenge we are facing. The citizens, and all those who, albeit with legitimate reservations and differences, recognize themselves as part of this majority should be willing to start on a new path. If we cannot find this courage and if we aren’t willing to take the risk it entails, neither the “Yes” nor the “No” side will win. In that case, the right has already won.

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