Commentary. We cannot merely equate the 32 percent who voted for the 5 Star Movement with those who gave their support to Lega Nord and the center-right. It is clear that there has been a move from the Democratic Party to the 5 Star Movement.

The Left was shattered, but Renzi still doesn’t seem to get it

Resounding and brutal, heavy and categorical—such was the defeat of the Left. In these pages, leading up to the election, we had been talking about bad omens rather than firm hopes, and, unfortunately, we were not wrong.

The failure of the Liberi e Uguali alliance starts and ends with their percentage: 3.4 percent, the same as Vendola and Fratojanni’s party got in the 2013 elections, at that time allied with Bersani. The exiles from the Democratic Party have not found their voters, and in order to rebuild a Left it will not be enough just to make some adjustment. The scale of the political earthquake caused by these elections won’t allow it.

A country divided halfway between the Lega and the 5 Star Movement—that is the image of our society that the elections have offered us, forcing everyone to reflect on the alienation of the Left from the life of the country, on their too-lazy answers, or the lack of any answers at all, to the social disaster caused by the crisis, and on their underestimation of the unpopularity of the ruling class with which we are being confronted. All this because there can be little doubt about the radical nature of the protest expressed by this vote.

And even if the form, and content, of what this protest has brought forth are not entirely of a nature to show our civil society as a paragon of virtue, it is of no use to turn away from it, or offer ourselves fictitious consolations. That attitude has brought nothing good for a long time. In Macerata, a district that held much interest in the context of this election, the Lega won. Now we have a regular Le Pen-like party to fight, just like in the rest of Europe: in France, in Germany and in the countries of Eastern Europe.

This will naturally be the subject of the internal discussion that Grasso’s alliance will have after this defeat, which must be admitted without excuses, together with the unrealistic expectations that were set. They must start again—not from square one, but from 3 percent, the small base that allowed them to barely exceed the minimum threshold set by the Rosatellum. And one of the essential aspects of this discussion will have to be a just appraisal of the success of the 5 Star Movement.

The votes that Renzi lost have not gone to the LeU, but, more realistically, at least in part, to the M5S, the protagonists of a wave that has painted half of Italy yellow, particularly the south, which Sunday was united under a single color. A turnout of over 60 percent has brought everything up from the depths, like a raging river breaking through the levee.

In the analysis of the 11 million voters earned by the followers of Grillo and Casaleggio, it will be interesting to look in detail at the changes in preferences, but it is already clear that there has been a move from the Democratic Party to the 5 Star Movement. The latter have won the contests for the single-member constituencies in the Senate of Campania, Puglia (governed by Michele Emiliano, from the PD but an open supporter of Grillo), and Sicily, where the 5 Stars profited from the internal collapse of the center-right and the dissolution of the Christian Democrat-Berlusconian currents. Even Sardinia belongs to the 5 Star Movement now.

For this analysis, it is necessary to abandon the distorted perspective of propaganda and to no longer settle for merely equating the 32 percent the 5 Stars received with votes given to one of the many faces of the Right. That is, unless one is willing to also abandon the 11 million citizens who voted for M5S to the “black wave,” alongside those who chose Salvini and the center-right.

In the great game of coalitions, Di Maio is now playing a leading role, wearing his valedictorian cap, sure of himself and ready for phase two: finding a solution for a government to implement the points on his program, for which everyone playing the coalition game will have to have an answer ready. Salaries, pensions, job insecurity, labor and the citizenship income—these top issues will all be on the table during the government negotiations.

After announcing his coming resignation as secretary of the PD on Monday, Renzi clarified, however, that he will not go away after all. Instead, he called on the party to organize something like a congress for coming to terms with the defeat, and in the meantime he is laying down the line for the upcoming government consultations on the Quirinal Hill: “never with the extremists.” It seems that, if he does end up actually leaving, he will only do so after the formation of government, which will not see the PD allied with the M5S.

The PD received such a blow that the (currently resigning) secretary has even made it a point of pride that he was elected Senator, retreating to his political refuge, the Florentine stronghold. We all remember his slogan: “we will be the biggest group in Parliament,” from back when he believed that the new election law would allow him to pick up extra seats. Today, the Democratic Party has been cut down to 18 percent, about as much as Salvini’s Lega, which, thanks to the very same Rosatellum election law, will have twice as many MPs as the PD.

The Democratic Party leader is not truly acknowledging the scope of the blow, and is still going on incessantly about how “for all the good we did, we were not understood,” among irrelevant complaints about Minniti’s loss in the Pesaro race (the minister will still be in Parliament, as he will enjoy the benefits of proportional vote redistribution). He seems lost in a daze as he talks about the next PD primaries, pointing the finger at those party colleagues who would wish to oust him. If the PD’s vote hemorrhage continues even further, the primaries promise to be not so much an opportunity for an unlikely comeback as one final exorcism.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!