Wednesday

1st Mar 2017

Focus

Italy PM chooses women MEP candidates to combat 'grey' list

  • Success in the 25 May elections is crucial for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (Photo: Carlo Nidasio)

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has selected five women to front the campaign of his Democratic Party (PD) for May's European Parliament elections, with an 11th-hour reshuffling of candidates' lists that caused a few frictions among his underlings.

Renzi picked four national PD lawmakers – Alessia Mosca, Alessandra Moretti, Simona Bonafè and Pina Picierno – as well as justice ministry official Caterina Chinnici, whose father Rocco, a judge, was slain by the Sicilian mafia in 1983, to head the PD's lists in Italy's north-west, north-east, centre, south and islands constituencies.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He made the change on Tuesday (8 April) night, on the eve of an official announcement. Italian media suggested he intervened because the draft list of candidates that had been submitted to him was too "grey".

As a result, two people who were bumped off the top positions – Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini and Bari Mayor Michele Emiliano – withdrew from the race. It is still unclear who will take their place. The PD has until April 15 to make a decision.

Nicolini – who dealt with the aftermath of the 3 October shipwreck off the shores of Lampedusa, in which 366 migrants died, and campaigns for immigration reform in Italy and the European Union – said that after being denied the number one spot she had been promised, her candidacy had been "deprived of any meaning".

List frontrunners are by no means guaranteed election, as all candidates have to compete for preference votes. But the top position on ballot papers gives them much-needed visibility, multiplying their chances of success.

The PD lists include 16 out of 23 outgoing MEPs who are seeking re-election, including European Parliament Vice President Gianni Pittella, who is gunning for a promotion to the top seat in the EU assembly, which has not been occupied by an Italian since 1979.

Other notable candidates are Renato Soru, a former President of Sardinia and founder of internet provider Tiscali, and Congo-born Cecile Kyenge, who was subjected to a torrent of racist abuse while serving as Italy's first-ever black cabinet member under Renzi's predecessor Enrico Letta.

Success in the 25 May elections is crucial for Renzi. He is keen to consolidate support for his reform-oriented government and win a personal endorsement from voters after breaking a promise to seek high office only after a general election win. Instead, he ousted party colleague Letta in February, following a behind-the-scenes coup.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) of comedian Beppe Grillo, which is courting recession-weary voters with promises to "send home" all professional politicians, hold a referendum on eurozone membership and withdraw from austerity pacts such as the Fiscal Compact, is the biggest threat to the PD.

In a deepening rivalry, Renzi and Grillo are trading verbal punches almost daily.

Writing on his blog, the M5S leader dismissed the Renzi's female frontrunners as a "marketing" ploy" in the best Berlusconian tradition", evoking former premier Silvio Berlusconi's promotion of former models, singers and TV showgirls through the ranks of his People of Freedom and Forza Italia parties.

Renzi shot back in an interview with RAI state television. "Grillo wakes up every morning and thinks: 'How can I attack the PD today?'; I wake up every morning and I think: 'How I can change Italy today?'," he said.

A poll released Friday by the Ixe institute had the PD leading the race for the EU vote with 32.2 percent, followed by the M5S on 25.2 percent. Forza Italia – whose leader Berlusconi is waiting for judges to confirm that he can serve a tax fraud conviction performing community service – was trailing on 19.1 percent.

Three other parties made it across the 4-per-cent threshold: the New Centre Right, a ruling coalition partner of the PD, on 5.3 percent; the far-right Northern League on 5.2 percent; and the far-left Tsipras List on 4.2 percent.

Italy's Grillo wants disloyal MEPs to pay hefty fine

Italy's anti-establishment politician Beppe Grillo has asked candidates for next month's European Parliament elections to commit to paying a fine of €250,000 in case of disloyalty to the movement.

Anti-euro talk spreads in Italy

Leaving the euro – once a political taboo – is routinely discussed by Italian media, as the campaign for next month's European Parliament elections gets into full swing.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 20172018 European Year of Cultural Heritage Will Celebrate European History and Values
  2. UNICEFA Deadly Journey for Children: The Migration Route From North Africa to Europe
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsFreedom of Association and Expression Under Threat in Kazakhstan
  4. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Brussels on March 6th
  5. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  7. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  8. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  9. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  10. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow. Join Us on 23 March
  12. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen