Home News The Problem with the left: Veltroni’s stars and stripes masterpiece

The Problem with the left: Veltroni’s stars and stripes masterpiece

Walter Veltroni said that he does not trust politicians that care about polls. Right before the elections–that ended up in a disastrous defeat for the left – anyway, he was paying attention to polls. Why? Because he asked the former Judge Antonio di Pietro (leader of the Italia dei Valori political party) to join him against Berlusconi’s Pdl.

While Veltroni was watching the polls, he knew that his rival/friend was ahead and about to win the elections; this is exactly what happened.

Walter Veltroni and Antonio Di Pietro are very different from one another. Veltroni’s very sophisticated manners and his taste for the jet set society contrast dramatically with Di Pietro’s simple vocabulary and with his more stoic manners and staid past.  Just as these two friends are different, so, too, are their respective political parties.  The IDV and the Partito Democratico (PD) are two very distinct parties.  The IDV is reminiscent of what the former Judge did during the early nineties: namely: Di Pietro’s “clean hands” revolution which sent many corrupted politicians to jail. The PD, on the other hand, is an attempt to re-create a big center-left party after the failure of the PDS (they still had the sickle and the hammer sign on their symbol).

Now, say what you want about Veltroni, but he is certainly not a dummy: he took advantage of his position as the mayor of Rome and has become one of the most influential politicians in our country. He also has made the most of  Obama’s motto “yes, we can” and transformed it into the roman slang “se po’ fa’” -  which actually means “it’s doable” not “we can do it”. Among other things, Veltroni understood that he could use Obama’s popularity here in Italy at his own advantage.

Two days ago, Mr. Veltroni was being interviewed by Fabio Fazio (our Italian David Letterman) on his successful night show Che Tempo Che Fa (What weather). Once again he did what he is best at: turned things in his favor.

Di Pietro was, in fact, becoming an obstacle for the PD party. The former Judge has said that “the partnership with Veltroni has ended because he wanted to hang out with Berlusconi”. This was in response to Veltroni's statement on Che Tempo Che Fa in front of a million spectators: “our alliance has ended because Di Pietro has shredded up the agreement we reached before the elections”. What was this agreement? Was it for the two parties to join in a “single political movement”.

Given the profound differences between Veltroni and Di Pietro and between the PD and the IDV, though, that sounds like it was more of a promise than an actual agreement.

While I am writing, Veltroni is accusing the newspapers of focusing too much on this story and of overemphasizing the significance of their separation; he is also accusing Di Pietro of doing more or less the same thing.  Both are just trying to hide the fact that they just broke up, but it happened publicly on TV, in front of millions spectators. 

You don’t do that in politics unless you really don’t care about your partner, which appears to be the case.  Veltroni evidently doesn’t care very much about Di Pietro or his party, because his friend, Berlusconi, doesn’t like him either; Di Pietro, on the other hand, does not like Veltroni because he is friends with his nemesis Berlusconi.

This is not only about Di Pietro and Veltroni, though. This is also about the whole Italian left. There are, undeniably, very big problems in the opposition. The “Italian Democrats” cannot move forward without a political guide, and Veltroni cannot be this guide.

In a long interview with La Repubblica (the main left oriented newspaper in Italy), Veltroni said that the demonstration scheduled for October 25 at the Circus Maximus in Rome, will be a chance for the left to speak out loud against the government, particularly concerning three main themes: the reform of the school system, employment and the economic crisis. Clearly, neither Italy’s longstanding unemployment problem, nor the global crisis are Berlusconi’s fault.  It is not Berlusconi’s fault that Italy has always had problems with unemployment, not to mention the global financial crisis. Perhaps Saturday’s demonstration will be a way to measure the level of Veltroni’s popularity? It might be, since he does not trust the polls, as he said.

Veltroni also believes that, “If Obama gets elected, that might change many things in Europe as well”. Maybe he meant that, if a Democrat becomes the President of the United States, the Italian left will have a model to follow? Veltroni is very good at turning things in his favor, and this is a valuable skill to have. Solving the problem of the Italian left, which historically is one the most Russian-oriented political movements in Europe, by looking across the Atlantic is a hat-trick and it would be his masterpiece.        


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