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The center-right conquers once “leftist” and iconic Venice thanks to an entrepreneur turned mayor

by Mariano Maugeri

Luigi Brugnaro does not mince words. The new center-right mayor of Venice, a businessman who is also a former chairman of Confindustria Venezia (the association of manufacturing and service companies), at his first press conference as mayor said: “Enough with political showmanship. Venice must become a viable, competitive city once again. The party of lies and obfuscation has been defeated. I will work three times as hard to deserve the citizens’ trust, including those who did not vote for me. We kept entrusting management of the city to politicians instead of entrepreneurs: we can see the results.”

Brugnaro beat center-left candidate Felice Casson (a Democratic Party senator, with a career as a magistrate), a stinging defeat for the left which has continuously governed Venice for years. Brugnaro is the founder of a large temporary-employment firm.

Jobs are an issue and Brugnaro said Venice must start to experiment. Two immediate actions he proposed are the creation of a local development agency and a 272-acre economic development zone. He also wants to set out clear timetables and costs for reclamation projects. He has been fielding proposals from his closest advisers and allies on finding resources to close the budget gap and support the new investments.

Gian Angelo Bellati, from the Northern League party, and the future deputy mayor (who, however, hopes to become city manager, succeeding Margo Agostini) is a staunch proponent of a special statute for Venice, while Renato Boraso, head of another local group supporting Brugnaro, has a more creative idea: “It would be enough to auction 21 of the best works of art stored in the warehouses of Venice museums: we would instantly collect some €500 million.”

Brugnaro doesn’t get involved, but he repeats his fundamental philosophy: “When dealing with extraordinary situations, you have to respond with similarly extraordinary counter-measures. Free economic zones, a special statute for the city, and selling some art could be an attack strategy by the municipal government that will attract attention.”

He has also gone to battle against the “vu cumprà,” immigrants that sell counterfeit purses, glasses and luxury objects, “with the aid of people who, in the past, were even sitting on these chairs (in city hall). It is immoral and we will do everything to eradicate it: bad work chases away good work. Why can’t people understand that?”