Primary elections held yesterday by the Italian Democratic Party have been regarded by pundits as a major turning point for the Italian left. The country is now facing a major challenge in terms of a domestic reappraisal of the principles which lead its policies throughout the post-Cold war years. Will the new leader manage to deliver a real “change”? This word has acquired a new meaning after the elections in February, when the “joyous war machine” of PM in pectore Pierluigi Bersani crashed against the army of voters lead by former PM Berlusconi.
Change was meant by voters as a revolutionary way of firing the old party leaders both on the left and on the right: the 25,5% result for Grillo’s movement, with no funds, no ads, no public supports, but with tons of word-to-mouth publicity, can be now viewed from a different angle. As political marketing suggests (but also Gramsci, in a certain way), you cannot put your own clothes on the electorate, but you need to see the size of it and try to shape your policies according to the need of the voters, with solid roots in your own tradition.
Renzi’s PD will certainly give these basic acquis a higher status in the hearts and minds of politicians who despised him throughout these years. They seem to have learned the lesson, as they look around to gain popularity after losing their “greyness”. Will the left be able to answer this need for change within the electorate? “Le changement c’est maintenant” didn’t bring Mr. Hollande any luck, as the term now embraces nothing more than popular anger towards his policies. What “change” can we then suggest to restart the political landscape in Italy after years of stagnation?
Will also Europe be at the heart of this “Change” for the Italian left? According to the premises, it does not look like Renzi as Party leader is going to embrace either federalist or euro-enthusiasts ideals. During the campaign, he strongly opposed “Euro-bureaucrats” and the whole Brussels caravan with very eurosceptic tones. Undoubtedly, the mood of the moment and the esprit of these interesting times prevents politicians and élites to carry on a positive attitude towards Europe. Things in the European Union require now much more interest from Member States. Competences have enlarged, and subsidiarity principle knocks at the door of many countries throughout the Venus planet.
The only way for Matteo Renzi’s PD to have a say upon the futures of Europe is not drowning in the realm of losing ideals which permeates the political spectrum in the EU. The crisis has been a problem, but there are no solutions, which allow states to retain more power than before. It is unlikely that the major party in Italy will find itself satisfied with Europe as its predecessors did by appointing Piero Malvestiti or Rinaldo Dal Bo at the highest level of ECSC’s public administration at the end of the 1950s. Now it is time to lead, and be the conqueror of new pathways across which the young generations can find new perspectives and share hopes. This is the duty and main task Matteo Renzi will have to answer when dealing with the next European elections. They are no second-order consultations: they are the future and last call for many.