Even those who are critical of the PD cannot be indifferent to its fate. This certainly applies to those in the democratic and progressive camp, but also to those who care about the quality of our democracy more generally, which, by definition, needs an opposition worthy of the name. Accordingly, it is a cause for sincere concern to note the ever-increasing number of signs of a widespread resistance to change within the party’s congressional process – and, as the saying goes, many hints together end up amounting to evidence. This attitude is in blatant contradiction with the premise, which everyone is paying lip service to, of the magnitude of the crisis that the party is undergoing, which has led so far to proposing formulas such as a “new PD,” a “constituent assembly,” a “PD that goes beyond itself.”
These all signal the need for a radical discontinuity. The indicators of resistance to change include, first of all, the congressional timeline that has been extended in a self-defeating manner. This is explained as being caused by complex procedures dictated by statutes and regulations. There is an easy counterargument: rules are in service of politics and not vice versa, politics cannot wait any longer, and even states can recognize a “state of exception.” In concrete terms, the long months between the sound electoral defeat and the party congress are not doing the PD any favors. This is shown by the polls and, even more so, by the sentiment among activists, members and voters.
A second sign of resistance: the debate in the 87-member (!) committee set up to amend the Charter of Values drafted in 2007 at the party’s establishment – what seems like a geological era ago. The discussion has been held up by a background objection on the legitimacy of the amended Charter being approved by bodies whose mandate is ending. Formally, this is not an extravagant argument, but there are three considerations that can be immediately brought against it: the practical consequences of stopping an open discussion on a decidedly dated document; the fact that it is, in any case, a political document and not the party’s “Constitution” (the Charter is not the Statute); and the fact that this opposition to innovating the Charter of Values is being put forward on account of the lack of a “constituent mandate,” while, as we mentioned, some are talking precisely about a “constituent congress” – but how can this take place without a clarification of values that must come before it?
A third sign is the inhibition of a full-scale and in-depth debate, where the rules of the Statute have contributed to producing the result before our eyes: candidates, real or rumored, competitive or doubtfully so, who have in common that they are failing to share with us a vision of the party and of society and are not putting out organic platforms, but, at most, are doling out a few fragments of such platforms in press interviews. Frankly, it amounts to very little.
Fourth, the dispute over online voting. It’s hard to understand the resistance to it; or, perhaps, we can understand it all too well. It has already been tried in Rome, Turin, Bologna and Sicily. Today it is technically possible to guarantee its security. After all, physical booths are not absolutely safe from abuse and shenanigans. No point in mincing words: those who oppose online voting are afraid of openness and are betting on limited participation. And in any case, debates on this point where positions are manifestly dictated by political calculation are a bad look.
Fifth, the rhetoric about focusing on the local territories, which is doubly questionable. Both because those running to lead a major national party must offer a national political and programmatic vision; and because it somehow presupposes that the pathological division into wings and currents – indeed, its unhealthy “material constitution,” mostly consisting of personal connections – is a sin that only the party’s leadership in Rome is guilty of. Such a narrative is belied by the facts.
It’s enough to take note of how local chieftains, their underlings and their territorial connections, including family clans – especially in the south – are rushing to get behind the candidates considered to be favorites to win, whether rightly or not. Meanwhile, the latter, despite their outward denials, are willfully recruiting them. This is not exactly the radical break, innovation and openness that is needed and was promised.
We hope that we’ll be proven wrong.