Amazing scenes throughout Italy as people flock to vote in the Partito Democratico primaries. Matteo Renzi, mayor of Florence, is challenging 'former' Communist Pierluigi Bersani for the leadership of the party that Romano Prodi put together all those years ago to take Italy into the euro. Since then the trade union and 'former' communist and socialist Left have steadily eroded the Party's public support, spectacularly causing the fall of the Prodi government and the return of Berlusconi's gangsteristic corruption, when Rifondazione Communista voted against trade union reforms. (though they did get punched in the mouth in the train home by furious citizens).
Matteo Renzi, a sensible man of impeccable centrist credentials, has been busy scrapping the 'former' Tendency's leading lights with great success: Massimo D'Alema, Walter Veltroni are the two biggest scalps who will not be standing again (thank Goodness) but his assault upon the dregs of Italy's degraded Left have done much to bring younger, centrist voters to the PD. It should be remembered that Prodi was, probably still is, a Christian Democrat and by no means of the Left.
The 'Former' Tendency has done all it can to disrupt the primaries, demanding: pre-registration (an electoral voting certificate is not enough); the signing of a public declaration of intent on equality, solidarity, fairness (blah di blah di blah); a 'voluntary' contribution to the PD; submission of name, address, email - a quite extraordinary intrusion into voter privacy that had to be sanctioned by a state tribunal which ruled that this data be destroyed after the vote; and the need to have voted in the first round should any second round voting be necessary.
The on-line registration, particularly for Italians abroad, was near impossible to follow and the cut off for pre-registration was 20 November. Registration at the polling booths has led to queues of up to 2 hours as voters doggedly formed third-world length lines to vote down the 'Formers'. Renzi was made to wait an hour and a half at the the piazza Ciompi polling station in central Florence as PD stalwarts dawdled over the registrations of thousands of voters.
There is one consolation as we face down this democratic centralist performance. If Bersani 's henchmen do hand him a 'win' then none of those who have turned out today in such numbers for Renzi will be voting Partito Democratico next March. And the President of Italy will once again be forced to use those powers so presciently written into the Italian Constitution to prevent the perversion of democracy from communist and socialist, or from criminal, corruption.
We go to vote again next Sunday. After one third of the votes are counted we have Bersani 44.6: Renzi 36.9: Vendola 14.4.
Toscana has voted for Renzi; Emilia has voted for Bersani. Red Italy has split.