Elly Schlein: will she be able to put the twentieth century behind her?
In Italy We used to have a very strong communist party called PCI that had a lot of support from the working-class population, especially factory workers, but not only.
When Communism fell in Eastern Europe, the party changed its name several times and merged with the Christian Democratic Party, which was the main moderate party with Catholic inspiration that had governed for many years.
However, this new party – “Partito democratico” – never managed to find its own identity.
Even the former communists, after the international failure of communism, pursued very moderate economic policies, to the point of seeming to imitate the economic right. The only thing they did was to oppose the less presentable leaders of the right, such as Berlusconi and Salvini, but they didn’t seem to have their own proposal or identity.
Over the years, they not only lost many votes but also lost any ties with the lower classes who no longer felt represented.
Now, something new has happened: a young left-wing woman, Elly Schlein, has been elected as the leader of this party. She doesn’t come from a popular background but she’s also not compromised with the old establishment that ruled in the past century.
In American terms, she might be compared a bit to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but only vaguely.
It’s unclear whether this woman will be able to rebuild the left in Italy. Specifically, we don’t know if she will (first) be able to govern a divided party that has been used to following power without any ideals, nor do we know (second) if she will be able to reconnect with the popular classes. Today, they are no longer a cohesive social block like the working class was at the time of the PCI, but a galaxy of different conditions, all at the base of the social pyramid but not linked to each other.
Foto | Ansa