The forthcoming direction on February 19th could be key in revealing the plans of Elly Schlein, the Democratic Party’s secretary. This pertains to both the candidate lists for the upcoming European elections in June and, primarily, her own personal candidacy. As stated in the meeting’s agenda, the political situation and the PSE congress due to take place on 1 and 2 March in Rome will be evaluated. The PSE congress is a significant event that could potentially mark the secretary’s entry into the field, given her previous statements of wanting to prioritize the program over the individuals involved. The PSE European Commission candidate will be announced at this event, which may also signal Schlein’s entry into the field.
Within the party, it is widely believed that Schlein can no longer retract her candidacy, especially due to the ongoing rivalry with Giorgia Meloni. An anticipated meeting between the respective teams this week is expected to finalize the rules for the television comparison. Any step back at this point could be seen as a negative signal to the voters. It remains to be seen whether Schlein will run in all constituencies as the list’s head or only in some. The Democratic leadership group mostly supports the former scenario, believing that if a battle has to happen, it should be based on numbers. The Dem source summarized the situation: only a personal candidacy of the two leaders can decide the winner through “televoting,” without involving the “press and radio juries”. Schlein’s candidacy could also drive the party forward, and for maximizing this effect, it’s necessary for her name to be at the top of the lists. This morning, Schlein was involved in a series of confidential discussions about the European elections. The management meeting followed soon after, another sign indicating that the list’s composition is well underway.
For Schlein, the challenge lies not in whom to nominate, but whom to exclude. The list of aspirants grows each day, but there are limited spots at the top of the list that can offer a higher chance of being elected. The head of the delegation, Brando Benifei, and his deputy, Elisabetta Gualmini, would like to stay in Brussels. However, some ‘incidents’ that occurred during the Schlein secretariat have given the Nazarene something to think about. The online vote on Asap, the plan that allowed member states to use Next Generation Eu resources to produce ammunition for Ukraine, is still fresh in the minds of the highest-ranking leaders. Only Camilla Laureti participated in the online vote with the Nazarenos.
The strictly ‘Schlenian’ exponent is likely to be re-nominated in the Central Constituency for this reason. Another potential nominee is the doctor from Lampedusa, Pietro Bartolo, in the Isole constituency. In the Central constituency, the mayors of Pesaro and Florence, Matteo Ricci and Dario Nardella, have expressed their availability. Nardella confirmed, “With the Democratic Party, we are organizing the lists. I have given my consent to run as a candidate to secretary Schlein and the party.” Marta Bonafoni, the secretary’s right-hand woman and the secretariat’s coordinator, is likely to run alongside the leader.
In the North West constituency, Cecilia Strada, a human rights champion, and Stefano Bonaccini are mentioned alongside Schlein. However, Bonaccini, the president of Emilia-Romagna, might step aside for the former mayor of Bologna, Virginio Merola, a current parliament member. This could trigger a chain reaction that would send tremors down your wrists. Bonaccini would relinquish his European candidacy to make way for Merola, preferably as the list’s head. Bonaccini would then leave the presidency of Emilia-Romagna to participate in the Bologna by-elections and replace Merola in the Chamber of Deputies.
The vacant spot, that of the Region, could be attractive for Bologna’s current mayor, Matteo Lepore. This scenario is a nightmare for the Dem leader and the party, with the prospect of having Bologna and Emilia-Romagna’s elections in quick succession. The remote risk of losing both has to be considered. Therefore, the operation is not approved by the Democratic ruling class and, at the moment, seems confined to the ‘pour parler’ of the Transatlantic.
Another heavyweight mentioned for the North West is Andrea Orlando, who has been paying close attention to the territory where he was elected, Liguria. He is pursuing issues with a strong pro-European root, such as industrial and labor policies. At least two more names must be added to this list: Emanuele Fiano, a former Dem deputy with strong support in Milan and beyond, and Pierfrancesco Maran, a councilor of the mayor Giuseppe Sala. In the North Eastern constituency, Alessandro Zan, the Democratic Party’s rights manager, is a likely candidate. However, rumors about his alleged hesitation to take this step set off a race for the civic name, identified as Gino Cecchettin, the father of Giulia, the girl who became a symbol of the fight against gender violence due to her murder.
This possibility, however, was sternly rejected by the family’s lawyers. In the same constituency, there is also Alessandra Moretti, one of the attendees at the Forum on Europe organized by Schlein at the Studios on Tiburtina. In the South, the name that Schlein seems to be focusing on is that of Sandro Ruotolo, the Democratic Party’s information manager and an anti-mafia journalist, the ‘showman’ of the freedom of information control under the RAI. Also, there is Pina Picierno, the current head of the delegation, but the ‘weighty’ name, in terms of electoral significance, is that of Antonio Decaro, Bari’s mayor, who is also supported by Vincenzo De Luca. Names from civil society will be added to these figures. Schlein, on the other hand, emphasized to the Dems the need for “open lists that represent the society around us” and are not a “consolation prize, a tool of revenge, or internal counting”.