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Turin mayoral election redraws political boundaries between left and right

by Augusto Grandi

The disintegration of Turin’s center-right should allow Chiara Appendino, a candidate of the Five Star Movement, (M5S) to challenge outgoing mayor Piero Fassino of the PD in a runoff.

Fassino’s candidacy had initially been considered certain of success in the first round.

Instead, over the arc of a few months, the possibility has emerged of a runoff with a strong chance for Appendino, who could have the support of center-right voters as well as those on the left who don’t back Fassino.

In the case of the center-right, there are three candidates at the moment: Osvaldo Napoli, backed by Forza Italia; Alberto Morano, by the Lega and Fratelli d’Italia; and Roberto Rosso, the candidate representing a number of small parties. On the left, there’s Giorgio Airaudo (ex-leader of trade union Fiom) with three parties behind him, and Marco Rizzo, who will be the Communist Party’s candidate.

Beyond party affiliation, there are various visions for the future of Turin to debate. On one hand, Fassino is stressing continuity — of the efforts pursued for the city until now under him and before under Sergio Chiamparino, and even before that by Valentino Castellani. A model that’s being challenged by fewer financial resources, high debt and unemployment.

On the opposing front are all those who accuse the “Turin System” (a management model and power structure that PD adversaries say it is based on cooptation and nepotism) of having hindered development. Turin has become more attractive, without a doubt, and also more international, but has many unresolved problems. From rising crime on the city’s outskirts, to a brain drain, increasingly inefficient public transportation and delays in public works projects.

Thus, in the name of renewal, Appennino, Rosso and Rizzo managed to debate around the same table. Theoretically on positions that are ideologically irreconcilable but, in reality, with many points in common — even communist Rizzo and center-right representative Rosso on immigration issues.

On the other side, Fassino has garnered the support of the heads of associations, agencies and companies of every sort. Even the support of the former regional chairman Enzo Gigo, who was with Forza Italia at the time in office. What’s clear is that the candidates are redefining positions and political strategies in a way that has little or nothing to do with the old right-left dichotomy.