May 27. 2024. 8:49

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Italy’s leading left wing force to vote on new leadership on Sunday

Emilia-Romagna Governor Stefano Bonaccini and his former deputy, leftwing MP and former MEP Elly Schlein are through to the primaries for the election of the new leader of Italy’s leading centre-left force, the Democratic party (PD), with the vote scheduled for Sunday.

Following the general election on 26 September, Democratic Party Secretary Enrico Letta announced that he would not run again for the leadership of the party. However, his party’s poor result and Fratelli d’Italia’s roaring victory prompted Letta to accelerate the path to the congress to elect a new party secretary.

“I take responsibility for the result and will ensure the leadership of the party until the congress, but my leadership ends there: it is a gesture of love”, Letta said.

The PD primaries are open to registered and unregistered voters who have to show their ID at voting stations set up in several Italian cities.

The candidates for the secretariat were Stefano Boncaccini, Elly Schlein, Paolo De Micheli and Gianni Cuperlo. Yet only Boncaccini and Schlein are the two leading contenders that will face off for Sunday’s vote.

According to a Euromedia Research poll for the Rai 1 TV show Porta a Porta, Bonaccini is set to win 48.2% of the vote, compared to Schlein’s 13.5%. However, the high percentage of undecided and persistently low turnout rates could unsurp these predictions.

Both propose to profoundly ‘refound’ the party, which has often been accused of losing touch with reality, as evidenced by increasingly disappointing election results.

Raised in the Communist Party and then the Democratic Party, favourite Bonaccini has the most political experience, becoming governor of the Emilia-Romagna region in 2014 and again in 2020, beating Lega candidate Lucia Borgonzoni, who was widely supported by vice-premier Matteo Salvini (Lega/Id).

New to the field is Schlein- a progressive feminist, and a voice of the younger generation who is close to the LGBTQ+ community. Other key talking points include fighting inequality, labour reform and the climate emergency.

As a vice president in the Emilia-Romagna region, alongside Bonaccini, she was a member of the European Parliament from 2014 to 2019, becoming a contact person for the Socialists & Democrats group.

During her election campaign in Emilia-Romagna in 2020, a video of Schlein questioning Salvini, who had just left a restaurant, about her parliamentary activities in Brussels went viral.

“Why in Brussels have you never come to any of the 22 negotiating meetings on the most important migration reform for Italy?” she asked.

In 2015, Schlein chose to leave PD because she disagreed with the political line adopted by the former secretary and premier Matteo Renzi, who then founded Italia Viva (Renew) party. She returned to PD in 2022 to run for party leadership.

(Federica Pascale |