Commentary right-wing shift in italy: insecure and petty-bourgeois

In Sunday’s runoff elections, Tuscany fell into the hands of the right. This shows: Italy is no longer the swanky, likeable country.

Things are going wrong in Italy Photo: imago/ Eibner Europa

Now Tuscany, too! That’s where we Germans have always gone to so much trouble! The maritime Massa, the noble Pisa and even the beautiful Siena – these and other, almost naturally "red" Tuscan municipalities have fallen into the hands of the right in Sunday’s runoff elections.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of the Lega had been very active in the municipal election campaign in recent weeks – and he won for the third time after the parliamentary elections in March and the regional elections in May, with the slogan "Italians first" that was as silly as it was successful.

In 2013, ten of the region’s eleven provincial capitals were still governed by mayors from the Democratic Party (PD), but today there are only three – in Florence, the Tuscan capital and political home of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, elections will not be held until next year; and here, too, things do not look good for the PD mayor.

Salvini has proven once again that he knows how to win majorities in today’s Italy. What already made Silvio Berlusconi’s success possible in the early nineties applies to him: "He is so Italian," wrote a correspondent at the time.

A country with an unpleasant atmosphere

But today’s Italy is no longer the self-confident, swanky, but also curiously likeable country of Cavaliere Berlusconi; it is an insecure, lousy, petit-bourgeois country in which one finds, amazingly, exactly the same "atmospherically unpleasant mood" that Thomas Mann sensed among domestic middle-class tourists in the Tuscan seaside resort of Forte dei Marmi in 1930 and captured in his novella "Mario and the Magician.

Now some people in Italy are taking comfort in the low voter turnout in many places. Yet it is just another sign that four months after the crushing defeat in the national elections, even in a core left-wing region, no alternative has been established to the racist pseudo-social policies of Lega and the Five Star Movement, which has largely faded into obscurity.

Salvini is a gifted politician. But above all, one without an opponent.

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