No one laughing at Grillo's party now after poll


THE LANDSCAPE of Italian politics appeared to experience a minor revolution in last weekend’s run-off local elections where, in one sense or another, all the country’s biggest political parties suffered notable setbacks.

Perhaps the most indicative win came in Parma where Federico Pizzarotti, running on behalf of the Five Star Movement inspired by comedian and political activist Beppe Grillo, was elected Mayor with 60.3 per cent of votes as opposed to 39.7 per cent returned by Democratic Party (PD) candidate, Vincenzo Bernazzoli.

Three months ago, the Five Star Movement was running at 1.8 per cent in national opinion polls whilst in the first round of Parma voting two weeks ago, Pizzarotti registered a 19.4 per cent vote.

In the current climate of economic crisis, the perception that mainstream politics has done little other than feather its own nest appears to have prompted a distinctly “protest” style vote for the inexperienced and relatively untried Five Star Movement.

Two weeks ago, the failure of Silvio Berlusconi’s PDL party, the largest in parliament, to take even one candidate through to the run-off vote in the four major mayoral contests in Genoa, Palermo, Parma and Verona had sounded a loud alarm.

The overwhelming defeat for the PD candidate in Parma sounded another alarm.

Nor did the country’s major opposition party do any better in Palermo where its candidate Fabrizio Ferrandelli lost heavily to Leoluca Orlando, a former Palermo mayor running for the Italy of Values (IDV) party led by former investigating magistrate Antonio Di Pietro.

The overwhelming 72.4 per cent vote returned by Orlando was seen as an anti-Mafia vote, given the alleged links of Ferrandelli to organised crime.

The PDs did at least experience some compensation in Genoa where its candidate Marco Doria picked up a 59.7 per cent vote as opposed to 40.3 per cent returned by the Third Pole, middle of the road candidate, Enrico Musso.

Perhaps the biggest loser last weekend, however, was the Northern League, which was defeated in all seven mayoral votes where its candidate had made it through to the second round. The party has paid a heavy price for the series of financial scandals involving its founder and former leader, senator Umberto Bossi.