Franceschini’s many challenges

Dario Franceschini (50) is the new leader of the Italian PD (Partito Democratico).

He was elected on February 21 – after Veltroni’s retirement – by a large majority (1,047 votes to 92 ) against Arturo Parisi.

Franceschini is a lawyer and a novelist and he was a member of the Partito Popolare (Popular Party) and the Margherita (Daisy). He has served as Pd’s deputy-secretary – with Veltroni as the boss – from October 2007 through February 2009.

Veltroni’s resignation from the position of Pd Leader, came after the humiliating defeat in Sardinian’s regional polls against the new governor of the island (PdL’s candidate) Ugo Cappellaci – who won 52 percent of the votes. Former governor and left-wing opposition candidate Renato Soru won 43 percent of the votes.

“I understand this role as secretary as a service to the party. I am not here to prepare my personal future”, said Franceschini afer his election. A difficult test awaits the new Pd’s leader: trying to revive the Pd, “it will be difficult, but we can do it”.

Franceschini’s elections sparked a wave of comments throughout the Italian media outlets concerning the situation inside the Partito Democratico. Veltroni’s political creature may not survive after his resignation and the European elections are scheduled for early June. Many pundits said before Franceschini’s election that he was going to take Veltroni’s place just until Pd’s congress in November, instead he has already announced that he is going to be a full-time leader: “But those who are applauding me today must not come and ask me for jobs tomorrow”, said Franceschini. Veltroni has admitted his failure as the Pd leader after Sardinia’s defeat during a news conference on Wednesday: “We must overcome personality conflicts and divisions and move from a radical chic left-wing, driven by the need to settle problems via the judiciary, pessimistic and largely conservative towards a centre left which is innovative and able to get in synch again with the real life of citizens”.

”The responsibility for having failed to create the party I dreamed about, a dream shared by millions of others, is totally mine and I’m ready to shoulder the blame”, he added. The internal struggle inside the Pd has deep roots, according to some Italian political scientists. The end of the Russian Communist Party and the communist ideology was a deathly blow to the Italian left. Now the Pd needs a new model and Veltroni tried to look across the Atlantic in order to achieve that: ”Italy needs deep and radical change,” said Veltroni and ”what happened in the US could also take place here”.

Of course he was referring to Obama’s victory, happily celebrated by the members of his party. Many pundits agree on the fact that the rather unknown Franceschini doesn’t fit the role of a new hero for the left, which is exactly what this coalition needs to overcome the many troubles that lies ahead. Even though the new Democratic Party leader thinks that: “Optimism has returned, trust has returned and the will to fight has returned”, problems started to erupt immediately.

Franceschini must defend himself from the many attacks he suffered right after his election. The wannabe mayor of Florence – Matteo Renzi – said in an interview with La Stampa “I wouldn’t have voted for Dario [Franceschini] if Veltroni was a disaster you don’t elect the deputy-disaster to face a transitional period”.

So, Franceschini has to dodge his allies’attacks before trying to move ahead. A major political problem may also be the “Englaro issue” and the new law about the biological testament upon which many politicians inside the Pd have different views.

Andrea Loquenzi Holzer

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Andrea Loquenzi Holzer

The truth will set you free

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