NEWS Italian Jewish Leaders Comment Municipal Elections

electionsBy Daniel Reichel

On June 19, some of the most important Italian cities elected their mayors. Rome will be now governed by the first woman mayor, Virginia Raggi of the Five Star Movement (M5S). In Milan the center-left candidate Beppe Sala of the Democratic Party won against Stefano Parisi, the candidate supported by the right. As in the capital, the voters in Turin chose a woman from the Five Star Movement, Chiara Appendino. In Naples Luigi De Magistris, a former prosecutor, was confirmed for his second mandate and the same thing happened in Bologna with Virginio Merola (Democratic Party). In Trieste, the right wing candidate Roberto Di Piazza won against the incumbent mayor Roberto Cosolini.

All those cities will face some changes in the coming years. Particularly Rome and Turin will see changes, where Raggi and Appendino were elected for their anti-establishment positions. For this reason, there is a big debate in Italy about the future of these cities and also in the rest of the country. The debate is going on as well in the Italian Jewish community. Jewish leaders reacted in different ways to the results of the elections.

In Rome, for example, the president of the Jewish Community Ruth Dureghello decided to send a tweet to Raggi, during the night of the election, before the official results came out (although it was already clear she had won): “Congratulations to Virginia Raggi. Roman Jews wish you good work and good luck for the task that awaits you.”

In Milan the message to Sala was instead sent two days after the election: the two presidents of the Jewish Community Raffaele Besso and Milo Hasbani wished the new mayor good luck, emphasizing the good relationship created over the years with the municipality. The two presidents said that their hope is to create a fruitful collaboration with the new administration, but they also expressed their concern about the election of Muslim candidate Sumaya Abdel Qader, described by some newspapers as close to the Muslim Brotherhood and whose family members in the past have violently attacked Israel through social networks. “We met Sumaya before Sunday’s vote, said Besso and Hasbani, and she expressed her friendship to the Jewish community. She said she is far from any fundamentalism. We hope it’s true, but words are not enough, what we need here are actions. Sala, before he was elected mayor, met the community and promised to oversee the conduct of Abdel Qader. We hope he will do that.”

In Turin two messages were sent by the president of the Jewish Community Dario Disegni: one to the new mayor, Chiara Appendino and one to the outgoing mayor Piero Fassino (Democratic Party). “Congratulations on your election and best wishes for your work for the good of our city,” read the message sent to Appendino by Disegni, who also expressed gratitude to Fassino for the five years in which he governed Turin “with great foresight, civil passion and expertise.”

“As usual, we sent a brief telegram to Mayor Luigi De Magistris,” explained the president of the Jewish Communities of Naples, Lydia Schapirer. The relations with the mayor, known among other things for his pro-Palestinian positions, “are very very formal,” said Schapirer, while the community had good relations with other representatives of the city, especially with Nino Daniele, Councillor for Culture and Tourism in the previous De Magistris administration. “Daniele has always been close to the community and, when he could, he always participated in our events.”

“Relations with the new mayor of Trieste will certainly be good, I do not see any reason why not. In the coming days we will send our message of greetings and best wishes,” says the president of the Jewish Community of Trieste, Alessandro Salonichio, in the re-election of Roberto Di Piazza, in his third term as Mayor.