FLORENCE, ITALY — It is election season, and not just in the United States. The race for the Italian Senate, and ultimately Italy’s Presidente del Consiglio, or Prime Minister, has begun. Matteo Renzi, the youngest mayor of Florence at 37, is running for Parliament and prime minister.
The multi-party election for the Italian Parliament, selected by the citizens, will be held in April 2013.
Renzi, who is popular with the public, is running as part of the main center-left Democratic Party, or DP. Renzi recently returned from the Democratic Convention in the United States. He is using a platform many Americans are familiar with: change.
“When most of today’s politics were in Parliament, we were in kindergarten,” Renzi said, while speaking in Verona at a convention called “Future, Europe, Merit,” according to Italian newspaper Gazzetta del Sud.
The call for change in Italy is asking the younger generation to follow its political passions and for the older generation to step aside for new leaders. Experienced Italian politicians deem Renzi, a former marketing executive an unfit comedian, saying he has the appearance, but is not qualified.
Twenty-two-year-old Italian student Jacopo Frallicciardi said he supports Renzi and is happy to be rid of the former Italian prime minister, Silvio Burlusconi, who has been associated with various financial scandals, such as embezzlement, during his ministry. He was eventually voted out of office and briefly replaced by Mario Monti. Burlusconi, the three-time appointed prime minister and founder of the 2007 center-right, catch-all party People of Freedom, with roots in Christian and social democracy, is attempting to return to politics and is also running in the primaries.
“Berlusconi was a crook and a thief,” Frallicciardi said. “It’s time for a new perspective. I would love to see the liberals win, but I know that (political issues that I am interested in, such as) gay marriage will never be accepted because of our Catholic roots.”
Still, there is hope for the young Florentine mayor. Although the race has just started, the Italian public thus far, is on board with the road to change. According to the polls reported by IOL News, 37 percent of Italians support Renzi, with only 27 percent in support of his Democratic Party opponent, Pier Luigi Bersani.
Renzi, known for his embracing and personable spirit, is campaigning across the country. Starting in Verona and making his way through 108 Italian provinces, Renzi is spreading his message and connecting with the citizens.
If his popularity with the public continues, Italy could see a shift towards socially liberal changes.