Category Archives: Lazio

Zingaretti victory in Lazio caps subdued election for Italy’s far right


Although relatively more attention has been on Italy’s general election and its aftermath and on Roberto Maroni’s victory in the Lombardy regional elections, Nicola Zingaretti’s victory as the next regional president of Lazio has launched the career of a new face of the next generation of Italy’s political leadership while delivering a stinging defeat to one of Italy’s most prominent far-right figures. Italy Flag Iconlazio

Zingaretti (pictured above), the candidate of the center-left Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party), won a whopping victory over Lazio’s former regional president Francesco Storace, leader of La Destra (The Right), a nationalist conservative party in Italy, Davide Barilliari, the candidate of the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S, the Five Star Movement) and Giluia Bongiorno, who led a centrist coalition in the election.


The result leaves the center-left in control of 28 seats in Lazio’s regional parliament, with 13 for the center-right, seven for the Five Star Movement and just two for Bongiorno’s centrists.

Zingaretti, elected to the European Parliament in 2004 and thereafter elected as president of the province of Rome in 2008, is the latest center-left star to emerge out of Roman politics, and he could well use the Lazio presidency as a springboard into a future in national politics.  Former Rome mayor Francesco Rutelli (unsuccessfully) led the center-left in the 2001 general election and subsequently served as prime minister Romano Prodi’s minister of culture and tourism.  Rutelli’s successor as Rome mayor, Walter Veltroni, helped found the Democratic Party in Italy, and thereupon led it (again, unsuccessfully) in the 2008 general election.

Zingaretti’s first task will be to restore integrity to regional government in Lazio, Italy’s third-most populous region.  The outgoing incumbent, the PdL’s Renata Polverini, resigned early after being implicated in a funding scandal whereby public officials were using government funds for private use.  Her predecessor, the center-left Piero Marrazzo, lost reelection after he was blackmailed over a video recording of Marrazzo engaging the services of a transsexual prostitute.

More immediately, however, the strength of Zingaretti’s campaign may well have helped Pier Luigi Bersani’s centrosinistra (center-left) coalition win victory in the senatorial contest in Lazio — Bersani’s coalition won just 32.3% against former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centrodestra (center-right) coalition, which won 28.8%, a much smaller margin of victory than Zingaretti posted over Storace.

The landslide defeat is a setback for Storace, president of Lazio from 2000 to 2005, and one of the most well-known members of Italy’s nationalist right.

But it’s also a setback for Italy’s nationalist conservatives after a campaign saw Berlusconi shared some kind words for Italy’s former fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and whose party, the Popolo della Libertà (PdL, People of Freedom), includes Mussolini’s granddaughter, Alessandra Mussolini, a former Playboy model, was elected to Italy’s upper house, the Senato (Senate) over the weekend.  Continue reading Zingaretti victory in Lazio caps subdued election for Italy’s far right

Center-left poised to block nationalist Storace’s comeback in Lazio

Statue of Caesar Augustus, Via dei Fori Imperiali

In addition to the national Italian elections later this month, with Pier Luigi Bersani leading the race to become Italy’s next prime minister, and in addition to the regional elections in Lombardy, where the centrosinistra (the center-left) is giving the centrodestra (the center-right) a strong challenge in the conservative heartland of northern Italy, the centrosinistra is the strong favorite to win power in Italy’s third-most populous region, Lazio.lazioItaly Flag Icon

Conservative Francesco Storace, leader of La Destra (The Right), a stridently nationalist party to the right of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Popolo della Libertà (PdL, People of Freedom), is hoping to return as the regional president of Lazio, following the resignation of the previous government.

The outgoing regional president, Renata Polverini, was elected in 2010 as a candidate of the PdL-backed centrodestra, after previously serving as president of the nationalist, right-wing Unione Generale del Lavoro (General Labor Union), a national Italian trade union.

Polverini, however, resigned in September 2012 after a funding scandal revealed that public funds were being used by members of Polverini’s government for private use.

So like in Lombardy, the key issue in the race is corruption, though her leftist predecessor, Piero Marrazzo, left office amid his own scandal when it was reported that he had been blackmailed by a video recording of Marrazzo cavorting with a transsexual prostitute.

In turn, Marrazzo’s predecessor, Storace, also left office amid the ‘Laziogate’ scandal, whereby Storace was accused of having abused his power to learn more about the members of a new neo-fascist party founded by Alessandra Mussolini.

Lazio has traditionally see-sawed between the left and the right — its capital, Rome, traditionally leans left, and the rest of the province leans right, though even Rome can shift as well.  Rome’s mayor since 2008, Gianni Alemanno, is a solidly right-wing PdL politician with ties to Storace and the far right.  In the 2010 regional elections, Polverini only narrowly defeated centrosinistra candidate Emma Bonnie, 51.1% to 48.3%.

The likely new regional president is Nicola Zingaretti (pictured below), who since 2008 has been president of the province of Rome, was a member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2008 and is a member of Italy’s mainstream center-left Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party).  Predictably, he’s run a campaign calling for more controls over regional spending and an end to the kind of expenses abuse that brought down Polverini.


Storace (pictured below with Berlusconi) remains one of Italy’s more controversial conservatives — in the 1990s and 2000s, he and Alemanno were the leaders of the social conservative wing of the now-defunct Alleanza Nazionale (AN, National Alliance).  As the National Alliance moved closer to the mainstream centrodestra in alliance with Berlusconi, Alemanno and Storace found themselves increasingly on the ‘social’ neo-fascist right.

Meanwhile, the National Alliance’s leader Gianfranco Fini moved even further to the center, became an increasingly important member of the Berlusconi government (i.e., foreign minister and later president of the lower house of the Italian Parliament). Ultimately, Fini abandoned Berlusconi, and is now closer to the pro-reform center than to Berlusconi’s coalition, let alone the far right of Alemanno and Storace.


Although both Alemanno and Storace have retained ties with Berlusconi and the PdL, Storace formed La Destra in 2007 and, in the 2008 Italian general election, partnered with the blatantly neo-fascist Fiamma Tricolore (Tricolour Flame).  The coalition won 2.43%, not enough to qualify for seats under Italy’s elections law.

The legacy of fascism is never incredibly far from the surface in Italian politics — to this day, despite the proliferation of many parties across the ideological spectrum, Italy’s two main leftist and rightist political traditions follow from the divisions between pro-republic fascists and communist ‘partisans’ that developed at the end of World War II and into Italy’s civil war from 1943 to 1945 (which also explains the uncharacteristically hostile relations between the Italian left and right).

That was on display just last week, when Berlusconi himself caused a firestorm by apparently praising fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Continue reading Center-left poised to block nationalist Storace’s comeback in Lazio