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Politics. This weekend, the leaders of the Left, Ecology and Freedom Party dissolved and reconstituted as Italian Left.

Italy loses a left-wing party and gains another

The journey lasted seven years, from Dec. 20, 2009, the date of the first national assembly, until now. This weekend in Rome, the Sinistra, Ecologia e Libertà Party — Left, Ecology and Freedom, or SEL — was officially dissolved.

Nichi Vendola, president of the party in an honorary capacity, delivered the announcement at a hall near Termini train station. He said it wasn’t a “sad event,” even if the base has expressed discontent, because also this weekend they kicked off the process of founding a new party called Sinistra Italiana, or Italian Left. It already counts with eight senators and 31 representatives, and it will hold its first Congress from Feb. 17-19.

“It will be a moment of great emotion, even for me,” said Nicola Fratoianni, who ended his tenure as SEL national coordinator to join the leadership team of the Italian Left, together with the other members and Vendola himself, who preceded him as party leader. “I wish it were a beautiful moment, because SEL is an exciting story, with some errors, even some of my own, especially my own, given that I directed it, but also so many beautiful things.”

SEL was closed down, but its heritage is not lost. It evolved, because it put distance from the initial mission and the policy framework — the alliance with Bersani’s Democratic Party. However, Fratoianni points out that the same underlying reasons remain and are those that prompted its founders and its base “not to give in to a framework of political balance claiming to be immutable.”

Italian Left is the promise. It will not be only a new symbol of that “red thing” of the so-called “radical left” that for decades has attempted to create a critical mass with a certain weight capable of shifting the axis and the direction of Italian politics and the real processes in society. SEL was not able to succeed in this task, says Fratoianni, and that led to the exhaustion of the thrust on which it was based. “Its dissolution is the acknowledgment,” he said. He hopes the new deployment “will have a better collision with history, beyond the subjective responsibilities.”

Italia Bene Comune, or Italy Common Good, was the center-left government project that SEL was part of; it no longer exists, not even in local councils. And its champion, the former mayor of Milan Giuliano Pisapia, was to meet today in Bologna with the Democratic Party mayor Virginio Merola, Gianni Cuperlo and Sandro Gozi for a project Vendola already rejected as unrealistic: to reorganize a center-left coalition trying to replace the votes of Alfani and Verdini centrists.

There is another alternative project proposed by the Costruire l’alternativa Assembly (Building the alternative), with the participation of the mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris, the former Mayor candidate in Bologna, Federico Martelloni, the young people of Act! and Tommaso Fattori, among others.

In all, Italian Left is trying to get back in the game. Fratoianni says the journey is necessary because the Italian political landscape requires a “new radicalism that opposes the increasing inequality and marginalization generated by the crisis.” But he points out that Italian Left will have a party structure, “because we need to maintain and develop social roots. We need more, not less, widespread reach in the territories.”