Category Archives: Political parties

Southern Italians press author Pino Aprile to lead political action

by Anthony M. Quattrone

The Party of the South and 20 other southern Italian political and cultural organizations held a meeting in Bari on 6 September 2012 with Pino Aprile, author of the best seller “Terroni”, to seek his agreement to become the political leader of a wider southern Italian political movement aiming at electing to the Italian Parliament during the elections in 2013, a team of dedicated southern deputies truly committed to the redemption and revival of the Italian South.

There are already many southern Italian deputies elected to the Chamber of Deputies, but, according to Enzo Riccio, member of the executive board of the Party of the South, “none truly represent southern Italians because their parties are tightly linked to the economic and political interests of northern Italian financial and industrial groups”.  According to Riccio, “the South has been in a position of subordination to the north since the brutal conquest of 1860-61, when the Piedmontese occupation army subjugated and annexed the peaceful, independent and sovereign state of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies”.

Antonio Ciano, founder and honorary president of the Party of the South

Southern Italian political and cultural movements complain that during the past 151 years the unified Italian state, which went from a monarchy under the House of Savoy to a democratic Republic after World War II, has fundamentally treated the South as a colonial possession, stripping it of its industry, banks and population.  According to revisionist historians, the vast majority of Italian immigrants throughout the world come from southern Italy because their homeland was brought to misery by the new Italian unified state, which they allege favored northern interests.

The Mayor of Bari, Michele Emiliano, speaks with attendees outside City Hall before the meeting

The meeting in Bari was hosted by the city’s popular mayor, Michele Emiliano, who is a member of the Italian Democratic Party (center left) and is a staunch supporter of the rights of the Italian South.  Last year, in another meeting with Pino Aprile, the mayor opened the event having a band play the national anthem of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, openly marking his understanding of subjugation of the southern homeland.

The hundreds of participants who filled City Hall were unable to sway Pino Aprile into becoming the leader of the wider southern Italian movement, but they were rewarded for their efforts when they heard him announce that he will play a major role by becoming the editor-in-chief of a new southern Italian daily which is in the making.

Stefano Lo Passo and Luca Antonio Pepe of the “Together for the Rebirth (of the South)” movement

Antonio Ciano, founder of the Party of the South, was particularly forceful in reminding the audience that the battle for the redemption and the revival of the South is uphill against the “strong powers” of the North.  Author Lino Patruno was particularly moved by the presence of many youngsters in the crowd.  Two young representatives of “Insieme per la Rinascita” (“Together for the Rebirth of the South), Luca Antonio Pepe and Stefano Lo Passo appealed to the need for linking the battle for the revival of the South with a strong struggle against all forms of organized crime.

According to Marco Esposito, a member of the Naples City Government and major organizer of the meeting in Bari, the creation of an independent southern Italian newspaper headed by Aprile will provide a major loudspeaker and standard-bearer for southern interests, facilitating the development of a strong and well established southern Italian political movement.

Pino Aprile in Bari

The comments on social networks after the meeting with Pino Aprile ranged from rank-and-file disappointment that the Pino Aprile would not take up a specifically political role, to a more pragmatic approach which acknowledges that, after all, the meeting has led to Pino Aprile’s announcement that the South will finally have an independent paper not linked to any northern financial or industrial group.

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New Mayor invites Obama to Naples

Anthony M. Quattrone

Mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris (L), shakes hands with US Vice President Joe Biden during the visit to Capodichino U.S. Navy Base in Naples, Italy, on 04 June 2011. On Right President of Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro. (Photo SkyTg24)

The newly elected mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, has invited President Barack Obama to visit Naples.  The Mayor, who is a staunch supporter of the American president, is hopeful that a visit by Obama could be used as a milestone for the rebirth of the city, which has been plagued by waste disposal problems, violent and petty crime against citizens and tourists, and collusion between organized crime and politicians.
During the visit by American Vice President, Joe Biden, to the US Naval Support Activity in Naples, Mayor de Magistris formalized his invitation to President Obama.  The Mayor stated that “I will work very hard for this event to take place – it is not an improvised matter, but something in which I firmly believe.  I believe that there are all the conditions for the visit to take place, but the timing needs to be verified.  I am an Obama supporter and I know that the States are very careful regarding the movement that has been created around my person.  There are analogies with what happened with Obama”.

The Neapolitan daily “Il Mattino” reported on 5 June 2011, that there will be a meeting next week between the Mayor and the American Consul General, Donald Moore.  According to the paper, the Consul stated that “we need to re-launch tourism, discuss the relationship between Naples and the United States, the relationship with the Neapolitan citizens who live in the United States, and the necessary commitment regarding security in light of what has happened very recently”.  The Consul was obviously referring to the violent death of an American tourist who died as a consequence of injuries received when robbers stole his Rolex watch downtown.

The President of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, also supports the idea of inviting President Obama. “Il Mattino” reports that discussions have already taken place with the Italian President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The objective would appear to be to create and international event or an Italy-USA bilateral meeting in Naples which would allow the city to benefit from major influx of public funds which could serve to bring it up to speed. Commentators are looking at the positive effect that the G7 had on the city in 1994, when President Bill Clinton and other international leaders were hosted by the city.  At that time, during Antonio Bassolino’s first term in office as mayor, the city underwent major refurbishing and restyling, leading many to label the period as a new Neapolitan renaissance.

While discussions proceed on getting Obama to visit the city, Luigi de Magistris is working on nominating his new city government.  His objective is to announce the names of the twelve department heads on 13 June 2011 .  Observers believe that the new government will include many technicians, a high number of women, relatively young persons, and it will be non-ideological. De Magistris will be relatively free from the influence of major political parties because he won defeating the candidates put forward by Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right and Pier Luigi Bersani’s center-left.   His most daunting task is to rid the city of tons of garbage before the high heat of the summer leads the disposal problem to become a major sanitary issue.

More photos from SkyTg24 of Vice President Joe Biden with US troops and with the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris

More photos from “La Repubblica” of Vice President Joe Biden with US troops and with the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris

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Naples has a new mayor: Luigi de Magistris

Anthony M. Quattrone

Official campaign poster: Luigi de Magistris Mayor "for" Naples

New mayor wins with 65% of vote

A former magistrate, Luigi de Magistris, is the new mayor of Naples. He has been elected today during a runoff between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes during the first round held two weeks ago. He defeated Gianni Lettieri, an entrepreneur representing a center right coalition supported by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The new mayor is a member of the European Parliament where he is the Chair of the Budgetary Control Committee. He was elected in 2009 representing the Italia dei Valori (Italy of Values) party, which is affiliated with the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe formation in the European Parliament.

De Magistris is a 43 old native of Naples. He is married to the former Maria Teresa Dolce and has two sons. He became a public prosecutor in 1995, with assignments in Naples from 1998 to 2002, and as deputy public prosecutor in Catanzaro, Italy, from 2002 to 2009. He entered the European Parliament as the second most voted Italian politician after Silvio Berlusconi. During the course of his career as public prosecutor, his investigations have frequently run into political roadblocks leading to his transfer and attempt to subject him to internal disciplinary measures. One of his investigations caused serious controversy leading to the resignation of Clemente Mastella, the Italian Minister of Justice, in 2008, causing the fall of the center-left government led by Romano Prodi.

Luigi de Magistris decided to run for the seat of mayor of Naples after that the center left primaries were cancelled last January due to alleged irregularities on the part of supporters of the very influential politician Antonio Bassolino, an ex-communist former mayor of Naples and former governor of the Campania Region. De Magistris announced his candidacy for mayor in February and he was supported by a coalition of three parties, his own Italia dei Valori, the Federation of the Left, and the relatively new Partito del Sud (Party of the South). A citizens’ list also, “Napoli è tua” (Naples is yours) supported him.

During the two-round runoff competition, Luigi de Magistris obtained approximately 28 percent of the vote, second to Gianni Lettieri with approximately 38 percent. The candidate of the center left, Mario Morcone scored slightly below 20 percent and the candidate for the center, Professor Raimondo Paquino scored approximately 9 percent. During the negotiations between the different coalitions, De Magistris refused an official agreement with the center-left, but appealed to their electorate. He also courted in public Paquino, obtaining his informal support. In the end, he was able to muster enough support to win with a striking 65 percent against 35 for his opponent, Lettieri.

De Magistris ran on a law and order platform, combined with proposals for re-launching Naples as a major European capital, ridding it of garbage and creating the premises for major investments. His electorate includes citizens of the whole political spectrum ranging from the far left to conservatives concerned with ramping insecurity and disorder. De Magistris will be able to count on a very solid majority in City Hall where at least 32 council members out of 48 will support his program, and another 4 will be neutral. The center right opposition will be able to count on only 12 votes.

Now de Magistris will need to immediately deliver on his promise to rid the city of garbage and to implement modern waste collection and disposal systems in line with the high environmental standards that he and his coalition have advocated during the election campaign.

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Center-left primaries in Naples: a farce

Anthony M. Quattrone

The primaries held by the center-left coalition on 23 January 2011 to select the candidate for the election to mayor for the city of Naples, which will take place in the spring (the date has not yet been set), has degraded into a scandal-ridden event.  Andrea Cozzolino captured 37.3% of the vote, followed by Umberto Ranieri with 34.6%, by Libero Mancuso with 15.8%, and by Nicola Oddati with 12.1%.  Only 1,200 votes separate the winner from the second-up. Close to 45 thousand people participated in the primaries.

Cozzolino’s success is tainted by accusations made by other candidates that he, or his supporters, acted improperly with respect to voting that took place  in two districts, Secondigliano and Miano.  Cozzolino lost in eight of the ten Neapolitan districts, but he won by an overwhelming margin in only two districts, allowing him to distance Ranieri by 1,200 votes.  Cozzolino is supported by the former mayor of Naples and two-times President of the Campania Region, Antonio Bassolino.  Ranieri is supported by the Italian President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano.  The third candidate, Libero Mancuso, is a former magistrate, supported by the left of the coalition.  Nicola Oddati, who is the only candidate not born in Naples (he is from Salerno) is a member of the current city government headed by Rosa Russo Iervolino, where he is the assessor responsible for culture.

The accusations against Cozzolino range from having received illegitimate support from Fulvio Martusciello, a member of the center-right coalition at the Regional Council, to having “bought” votes with the help of organized crime.  The national direction of the Democratic Party has taken over the Neapolitan section of the party placing it on 27 January 2011 in the hands of a commissioner, Andrea Orlando, nominated directly by Pier Luigi Bersani, in the place of Nicola Tremante.  The new commissioner, who is a member of Parliament and is responsible for the party’s national commission on justice and legality, annulled the primaries and started an internal investigation regarding the allegations made by several candidates and observers.

In Italy, the system of primaries, which have been adopted during the past three election cycles only by the center-left coalition, is still in an embryonic stage.  There is no formal method for identifying who is authorized to vote in the primaries.  The center left party organizations set up the voting methodology, and rely on volunteers to identify voters, who may  include also non-residents and those who normally vote for the center-right.  Since the center-right coalition does not hold primaries, their voters are free to “influence” the primaries in the center-left coalition, because they are not forced to choose to vote in one primary versus another.

Commentators in the local press note that the evident failure of the center-left coalition that has been ruling Naples under the leadership of mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino since 2001, and the administrative failure of Bassolino’s governance of the Campania Region before Stefano Caldoro’s center-right coalition took over last March, added to latest scandal involving the primaries, make it imperative that the center-left find a candidate capable of uniting the coalition and who is completely removed from Bassolino and the “old gang”.

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Berlusconi promises again to rid Naples of garbage

Anthony M. Quattrone

A child walks through uncollected garbage on his way back from school in the historic Spanish district of Naples on November 22, 2010 AFP Photo / Roberto Salomone

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi promised on 27 November 2010 that in two weeks’ time Naples will be garbage free.  It’s the second time in the last two months that he has promised to remove garbage from the streets of Naples.  Regrettably, he did not keep the one he made on 22 October 2010, and now the streets of Naples have accumulated 2,700 metric tons of uncollected garbage (i.e., about 6 million pounds).

Most people had reason to believe Berlusconi in October, because in 2008, after winning the national elections, he got the garbage off the streets, as promised during the election campaign.  On 21 May 2008, Berlusconi held his first cabinet meeting in Naples and ten months later, on 26 March 2009, he returned to inaugurate the new incinerator in Acerra, where most of the garbage produced by the former capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was to be treated.  During the inauguration ceremony in Acerra, Berlusconi declared that the garbage emergency in Naples was over.  Unfortunately, the Acerra plant, which is composed of three independent processing units, has never worked at full capacity.

Berlusconi’s new promise to rid the city of the garbage sitting on the streets appears to be a “mission impossible” to many observers due to a combination of technical and political issues.

On the technical side, the garbage sitting on the streets can be picked up in a couple of days, but the problem is where to put it.  The Acerra incinerator is not working at full capacity, existing landfills are almost full, the digging of new landfills are at a standstill due to “not-in-my-backyard” protests by people living in the affected communities, and very few Regional governments have expressed their willingness to process any garbage from Campania.  The Italian Army is sending 400 troops with equipment to assist in picking up the garbage and in securing designated storage depots and landfills.  Several cities have sent compactor garbage trucks to assist in picking up and processing the garbage.  The towns of Avellino and Caserta have agreed to take approximately 250 tons of garbage per day from Naples in exchange of being allowed to use the Acerra incinerator.

On the political side, Berlusconi is facing three main political problems in solving the garbage crisis. Continue reading

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Stefano Caldoro: Fighting prejudice coming from the North

Garbage crisis compounded by Northern prejudice

Anthony M. Quattrone

Stefano Caldoro, the governor of the Campania Region, is trying to head off a new garbage crisis in his region.  He is not getting much support from political allies in Northern Italy.  Caldoro heads a center-right coalition that was elected last March, following almost ten years of rule by former Communist Antonio Bassolino, whose regional government has been faulted for mismanaging the waste disposal system that brought images of Naples submerged with garbage on the front pages of newspapers world wide in 2008.

The governors of Piedmont, Roberto Cota, and Veneto, Luca Zaia, who are members of the Northern League party, belonging to Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition which heads the national government in Rome, have gone public in denying Caldoro any assistance finding a location to process thousands of tons of waste produced by Campania.

Zaia stated on 12 October 2010 that “on the waste management front, Campania needs to take care of itself , and it is a scandal that the army has had to intervene. I defend the people of Venetia and everyone must keep their garbage in their own home.”  Zaia stated that he was by Caldoro’s side, and that he “has my solidarity, because it is shameful to see urban guerilla scenes.  He is a friend and we are helping him also on the public health front, sending him top consultants from Veneto”.

Caldoro replied to Zaia’s “friendly fire” statement reiterating that the Northern League is “high and mighty”, behaving as an arrogant professor.  Caldoro’s position appears to be in line with the feeling which is beginning to gain ground in Naples against preposterous arguments put forward by northern Italian politicians against the South.

Caldoro has taken a firm stand affirming that he will counter all gratuitous criticism arriving from the North.  “I will reply” Caldoro stated, “at every arrogant attempt and attack against the South.  If this arrogance will continue to arrive from the Northern League, then we will reply, tit for tat.  We will fight and, in the end, logic will prevail.  There are too many prejudices up North and too many acquired positions that they wish to defend, but we will win the challenge.”

The emerging conflict between Caldoro, Cota, and Zaia is a new element of concern for Silvio Berlusconi’s conflict-ridden center-right coalition.  During the past three months, Berlusconi has had to deal with a schism in his Popolo della Libertà (People of Freedom) party which has led to the ouster of the party’s cofounder, Gianfranco Fini, and over thirty members of Parliament.  Fini is the current president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

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Stefano Caldoro’s center right coalition wins in Campania

Stefano Caldoro with Premier Silvio Berlusconi on 18 March 2010 during the campaign for governor of the Campania Region (photo from Caldoro's campaign site at http://www.caldoropresidente.it/foto/)

Stefano Caldoro, the candidate for the center-right coalition for governor of the Campania Region, has won the elections held on 28 and 29 March 2010, and the parties in his coalition have also conquered the majority of seats in the Regional Council. Caldoro took 54.25% of the vote, against Vicenzo de Luca, the candidate for the center-left coalition, who earned 43.04%, Paolo Ferrero, with 1.35%, who ran for the “federation of the left”, and Roberto Fico with 1.34%, representing another leftist formation, the “five stars movement”. Caldoro will be replacing Antonio Bassolino, the outgoing center-left governor, who held the post for the past ten years.

Only 62.96% of the approximately 5 million eligible voters cast their ballots during the elections in Campania.

The results in Campania follow the general trend in the elections held in ten other Italian regions. The results allow Premier Silvio Berlusconi to claim victory for his center-right government because his coalition has increased the regional governments that it administers from two to six, leaving four to the center left. The center-right won in Campania, Lazio, Piedmont, and Calabria, and it held on to Lombardy and Veneto. The center-left was able to hold on only to five regions: Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Liguria, Umbria, and Basilicata.

In Campania, Stefano Caldoro’s victory was cheered by those who are seeking a total break with the style of the outgoing governor, Antonio Bassolino, whose administration was marred by the accusation of cronyism, favoritism, and overall inefficiency. During the Bassolino years, the region has been at the center of international attention due to the garbage crisis. Stefano Caldoro is particularly concerned that Bassolino is continuing to make political appointments to regionally managed firms while he is on his way out, without coordinating such appointments with the incoming government. Continue reading

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