The results of the so-(mis)called ‘primarie’ for the new Partito Democratico are coming in, and the obvious outcome is now with us: Walter Veltroni’s ‘Bulgarian’ (yes, italians are, still, racist) landslide victory; all the other candidates together might well end up getting less than a third of Veltroni’s votes. The less predictable result is the good turn-out: more than three million people have apparently showed up to elect the leader and the assembly of the new party. Considering that the italian electorate is just under 50million, and that around 75-80% of those are active voters, around 10% of italian voters have given their contribution to the birth of the new party. Not bad, even considering the huge effort that the government and the media put in. Obviously, though, if the new party will want to have anything of an effect on italian politics, it will have to get at least three times as many votes at the real elections. This is, after all, a merger of 2/3 of Mr. Prodi’s governing coalition that got, in 2006, just about half of all votes casted for the lower chamber (‘Camera’) of Parliament (Berlusconi’s opposition lost by 0,07%). Still, getting more than three million people to vote for something that isn’t really a real election must count for something, even in a politically obsessed country as Italy, where everybody, everybody (yes, everybody) has some interest in politics (where that does not mean that people are interested in politics; but that very often your job will depend on the goodwill of some politician – now, if this is a stereotyped picture of Italy it is not because it is written for the British reader, but more likely because it is true).
So if the data on the turn-out is confirmed, and if it is reliable (and that will be a tough one to verify), then the government can breathe, and Prodi can use those numbers to keep his allies at bay. Whether that will result in proper, brave, reform – well, that’s a silly question to ask. It won’t. Veltroni’s victory is, on the other hand, hard to comment; because it isn’t news. It is something that we could have commented a couple of years ago. We knew it all along, all of us, long before Veltroni put himself forward. If we have to go by what Veltroni has done as Rome’s mayor, there is not much to hope: he used Rome for his national career, focusing on the little things (and the showy ones). He did not try to intervene on the tough long-lasting issues, because those weren’t going to pay off soon enough.
The only interesting question about Veltroni’s result is whether this huge majority will not end up hurting him by making the whole vote look like a fake.