Roman salute

I don’t live in Rome any more and many of the years I did spend in the city it was ruled by a series of insipid Christian Democrats, their names forgotten, more interested in nest-feathering than the fate of Caput Mundi. The place felt much as it must have done when sheep grazed in the Colosseum and the barbarians were a distant, fond memory. Since then, it’s been put on its feet by two centre-left mayors: Francesco Rutelli and Walter Veltroni. The centre’s been transformed in the past fifteen years, not always for the better. Some of the most characteristic parts of the city – such as Campo de’ Fiori – have been sacrificed in the name of health and safety. Public transport could still be improved, though it remains notably cleaner, faster and cheaper than that in London. (Not, I repeat, not than that in Paris.) It’s a far pleasanter place to be than Milan, ex-capital in all but name and gone to the dogs in the past twenty years. It’s been shown to be one of the safest cities in Europe and, I think, the safest capital.

So what went wrong? Why did Rome turn its back on Rutelli and elect neo-fascist Gianni Alemanno, an ex-squadrista with a list of arrests for political violence as long as your arm, proud bearer of the Celtic cross (see left), a minister in Berlusconi ‘s last government, the son-in-law of Pino Rauti, suspected train bomber and founder of Ordine Nuovo? I don’t know, and if you want an answer you’ll find a lot of finer and more informed political brains than mine only too happy to provide one. I don’t know, but. But.

I’d blame a lot of the defeat on the decision to re-propose Francesco Rutelli. The first time round, he was young, innovative, attractive in a rather square-jawed knitting-pattern way. He still had the air of resistance to the institutions that he’d acquired as blue-eyed protégé to Marco Panella. Since then, he’s lost an election to Berlusconi, he’s shifted from a secular and radical position on civil issues to the kind of half-witted bigotry you get from ‘teodems’ like Paola Binetti. He’s become a mouthpiece for the most blinkered and conservative elements in Italian society. Who needs him? I have nothing but admiration for all those Romans who held their noses while putting a cross beside the man’s name, but it can’t have been easy. Next to Rutelli, even Gianni Alemanno might look like a new broom. Albeit one in the sweeping hands of Berlusconi, Bossi and the Vatican (whose current CEO also has a rather murky fascist past).

If Veltroni wanted the PD to look like a paradigm shift in Italian politics he couldn’t have picked a worse candidate than the mealy-mouthed institutionalised has-been he chose. It was a lazy decision, and a contemptuous one. And now both Rome and the entire country will have to live with the consequences.

This entry was posted in berlusconi, binetti, italy, politics, rome, vatican. Bookmark the permalink.

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