A new Italy? A brief history of Sergio Mattarella

matarella
Out with he old, in with the slightly-less-old!

The elections of Italy’s new president Sergio Mattarella are fairly meaningful for all political parties and for the entire country, regardless of where in the political spectrum you are associated with or believe you belong to.

The 74-year-old politician officially was elected President of the Republic in January at the fourth official count of all votes after almost two thirds of the electing assembly voted in his favor. He then settled at Quirinale February 3rd, where traditionally all presidents reside when in power. He is now the twelfth president and the first Sicilian to hold the position.

Mattarella is known to be associated with left wing parties, even though he started his political career as a member of the Christian Democracy (Democrazia Cristiana), a party which comprised of both right and left-leaning political factions. This centrist party is a legacy from the historical Italian People’s Party (Partito Popolare Italiano or PPI) founded in 1919 by Luigi Sturzo and was inspired by Catholic social teachings. Its members were preaching the importance of family, fighting for women’s suffrage, the freedom of the Church and so on – until it eventually demised in 1994 following one of the biggest cases of political corruption in Italian political history.

After his brother’s assassination by the Sicilian mafia in 1980, Mattarella became more and more politically engaged and helped fight Cosa Nostra and other illegal organizations. He then escalated to more prominent roles, such as Minister of Public Education and eventually President of the Italian Republic.

As soon as he was sworn in, he promised to prioritize the fight against corruption and organized crime, as well as to tackle the economic crisis and to reform the electoral system. He claims that “corruption has reached a level which is not acceptable. It uses up resources which could be used for our people”. The president has also promised to create a deeper connection with Italians, based on a bigger communication directly to the people rather than to politicians only – on top of that, Mattarella has also promised that his mandate will be more proactive and will aim to impact reforms on a deeper level.

Moreover, his alliance with the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is decisive because now the decision making balance is more leaning towards the left factions. Needless to say that Silvio Berlusconi, aka the Knight (Il Cavaliere), as he likes being referred to, is not extremely enthusiastic about the new president. He claims Renzi has pushed for Mattarella’s candidacy and promises there will be repercussions, such as protests in the streets to push for new elections. This atmosphere between parties is not very promising, as the new president was just sworn in and expects to receive more support.

On January 18th 2014, the spokespeople for the Democratic Party and Forza Italia, i.e. Matteo Renzi and Silvio Berlusconi from the main two parties of the left and right wing of the political spectrum respectively, agreed to a series of reforms they thought would benefit Italian politics – such agreement is referred to as Nazarene Pact, from the name of the street where the two met, which is also where the Democratic Party Headquarters are based. Berlusconi now wants to reject the pact, thus causing further mayhem.

Is it just a simple political maneuver to stir things up and cause political fraction? Is it what opposite parties should always be doing? Mattarella, as political peace maker and guarantor of national unity, is now aiming to restore collaboration between parties – he even personally invited Berlusconi to the inauguration day, as token of mutual prosperity for the country. The months to come will tell us whether collaboration and unity are still staples of this mandate.

***

Luca Trovò is an English-Italian freelance translator in London. He has a BA in Foreign Languages and Literature from the University of Bergamo, Italy, and an MA in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Westminster in London. He is also an editor and translator for Equilibriarte. You can contact him and find out more on his Linkedin profile.

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