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Why does the Italian left always find its thoroughbred abroad?

Alexis Tsipras was in Rome a few days ago to discuss the launch of an Italian civil society caucus aimed at proposing his candidacy to the EU Commission Presidency. He met with a bunch of intellectuals from the left who have come up few weeks ago with an appello, stating that he could be the best choice for those who do not consider current status quo in Europe as irreversible. For some of them: more Trotsky, less troika. To put it bluntly.

These “1,1%” kingmakers of Italian politics are definitely struggling against many forces (first of all, themselves) in order to survive. The political landscape does not seem to be very favorable: they have been kicked out of Parliament in 2008 and are still recovering from that blow.

Moreover, they have experienced not only a constant decrease in electoral support throughout these years but also a rapid disbandment of their once strongest manifesto ideas. Some part of their ideological acquis has been robbed by Five-Stars Movement (h)ac(k)tivists, as it has been claimed by some scholars.

What is the most striking feature of this revamped political action by leftist “noble fathers” such as Altiero Spinelli’s daughter, Barbara, or other gauchistes such as partisan Nuto Revelli’s son, Marco?  Well, that is simple: there won’t be any politician at all among their candidate MEPs. This reflects two typical trends of Italian left, which can hardly be evoked at the European level.

First, there are no countries in Europe (or, better to say, in the European Union) where politicians are so much despised as they are in Italy. Is it all Grillo’s fault? No, it isn’t. Otherwise, there would be a Grillo for each EU Member State. It is a more subtle phenomenon, which has been going on for years. It is connected to the strange kind of parliamentary democracy that has ruled upon Italy for almost six decades. Studies have shown that pathos has prevailed over ethos during the last sixty years of Italian history.

Secondly, leftist ideas in Italy have been mixed with strongly anti-system (i.e. anti-Berlusconi, for twenty years) flavors. Someone has claimed that had the left treasured class conflicts and claims as their Polar star, they wouldn’t have lost all their votes. After the Millennium “debug”, they thought social justice was dressing up as EZLN leader Subcomandante Marcos, while drinking low-impact herbal teas and turning vegan. Politicians then seemed to lose their appeal to this smaller and smaller élites, which are now supporting “Sìpras”, as he has been called by the most renowned “Linke” newspaper, Il Manifesto.

What will be the outcome of this decision? Will there be room for an anti-troika platform supported by signatories from all over Italy? Let’s see if Graecia capta ferum victorem ceperit

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