“Do not vote for who is the heir to fascism! “, exclaims Daniele Lanni, local representative of the Italian General Confederation of Labor. Under the palm trees of San Benedetto del Tronto, 85 km south of Ancona, the left is breaking down its last cards to avoid losing the Marches, a region ruled by the Christian Democracy and then the center left since the post-war period.
Of the six Italian regions called to the polls on Sunday 20 and Monday 21 September, this land with a landscape crumpled by earthquakes is the least publicized. Sparsely populated, landlocked (no TGV or airport), neither rich nor poor, it is nevertheless the one most likely to switch to the right. “And not just any right: the one inciting hatred of migrants and which wants to relegate women to the home”, insists Maurizio Blasi, former editor-in-chief of the Rai regional.
Among the targets of the left, the far right movement Fratelli d’Italia (Fdi) and its local representative, Francesco Acquaroli. This still little-known 45-year-old man is the candidate of a coalition of right-wing parties (Lega, Fratelli d’Italia, Forza Italia and the Union of Christian Democrats and the Center), which the polls give the winner with more than 15 points in advance. On its own, the Fratelli d’Italia (Fdi) formation went from 7 to 15% of voting intentions in one year.
The question of migrants in the background
Its leader, Giorgia Meloni, is the most popular political leader behind current Council President Giuseppe Conte and Health Minister Roberto Speranza. “She is strong, determined, wants to fight against illegal immigration linked here to drug trafficking and the Mafia, I trust her”, hammer Paolo, voter of this party founded in 2012 on the ashes of the Italian Social Movement (neo-fascist) and Alliance Nazionale (far right). “The Moroccans, Tunisians and other Africans we see here prefer to beg than to harvest”, affirms loud and clear to a café terrace this retiree from the automotive industry after having closed the Sports Gazette.
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At his end of the campaign evening, a little further up the Adriatic coast, in front of a parterre of Italian flags, the Fdi candidate said nothing about immigration. It is about being more presentable than the League, in freewheel on the subject and in decline at the national level. “This is not a theme of these elections, which concern health, transport, the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises, the allocation of European funds”, insists Francesco, 23 and an activist since high school.
According to him, the left “Gives us a false trial, as with this dinner commemorating Mussolini’s march on Rome to which our candidate did nothing but pass and of which he was unaware of”. Another voter, refusing to give his name, will vote Fdi for “Say stop to uncontrolled immigration and delinquency” and because “It is the only coherent party to never have made an alliance with the Democratic Party (center left, Editor’s note) and the 5 Star Movement (anti-system, NDLR) ».
The anger of earthquake survivors
A little further inland, in Ascoli Piceno, Fdi won the town hall a year ago. Bristling with medieval towers, the city of 48,000 souls is also bristling with cranes, the scars of earthquakes that occurred in central Italy in 2016 and 2017. Still underway, reconstruction and security work is another because of the protest vote expected in the Marches.
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“In four years, the center-left regional government has done nothing! Thousands of people still live among the rubble. The school that brought us clients has never reopened ”, laments a confectionery seller in the historic center.
The shopkeeper praises the role of her far-right mayor during the Covid. He set up solidarity food races, distributed masks, and spoke every night on social networks … “I intend to vote for his party so that there is a change, she concludes. Well … if my husband agrees. “