Laura Boldrini‘s election to presidency of the Chamber of Deputies does honor to this country. And — if you’ll permit us a bit of pride — it also brings a special joy to our paper today, because Laura has been a blogger here since the day we began.
The lively and agonizing election of Piero Grasso to the presidency of the Senate followed hours later. Two exceptional people have now risen to the top of both chambers of Parliament — and for a country whose political institutions are undergoing an especially trying moment, this is a startlingly positive outcome.
The new president of the Chamber’s speech, which was punctuated by an incredible amount of applause from all sectors (including some representatives of the center-right, whose formal party response was to discredit the whole speech immediately), brought Parliament an image of an Italy with a clear idea of where it wants to go, without lapsing into populism, denial, or desparation.
She spoke of the poor, of violence against women, of refugees and immigrants for whom “our political institutions must become their home.” She named the pope, the assassinated former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, antifascism, and the President of the Republic — reintroducing, in few words, the dignity of our common history to a chamber which has in recent years shown us intrigue, embarrassment, and appalling conduct.
“I will be everyone’s president,” she concluded, in the best tradition of those who need political institutions to work for them. But beneath those calm words, and that excited voice, another emotion was also perceptible: anger. That had not been scrubbed away.
Laura’s Italy knows anger, and keeps it alive as a positive, regenerative force to remind itself that it never needs to settle for conditions are they are.
A new phase now begins for the political process. According to the first new estimates, the center-left’s sweep of the country’s second- and third-highest offices casts a shadow over the next government. In fact, it is unlikely that Bersani or any other member of the center-left could win a parliamentary vote of confidence.
With a paradox that is entirely typical of our system, we have been able to elect an almostly completely renewed parliament — of new faces, new generations, and new political strengths. But it is too divided to serve as a government. And as a result, today did not push away the shadow of upcoming elections; it brought it closer.
Yet even if this new parliament should only last a few weeks, and Boldrini and Grasso should only have sat upon their benchces for the space of a morning, it would have been worth it.