Member of the Executive Bureau of UEF-Italy
The electoral programmes were different with respect to the issue of Europe. UEF and JEF Italy made proposals for the re-launch of the constitutional process to the coalitions: the centre-right did not welcome federalist requests and its programme didn’t include a strategy to come out of the current block on the Constitution. The centre-left’s programme instead clearly stated that Italy will be committed to joining the group of countries pushing for a wider integration of the EU, to the re-launch of the European Constitution with a European referendum to be held together with next elections of the European Parliament, to propose and support a European plan for employment and growth, and to engage for a European foreign and defence policy. Prodi delivered a remarkable speech (unfortunately completely ignored by the big national mass-media) in front of the European Parliament on February 1st, indicating Europe as the way of progress for Italy.
We are all aware of the importantance of writing a good programme, but implementing it is the real challenge. The winning coalition is diverse, hosts lots of small components and a party (the Communists) that voted ‘No’ to the European Constitution when the Italian Parliament ratified it. Moreover, the majority in the high chamber is slight and fragile. However this weakness can hopefully become a spur to enact a strong pro-European policy and to obtain the popular consensus that was not so clear-cut in the ballot’s results. Federalists will monitor the adherence to the electoral programme, ready to complain if there are deviations from the positions reported in it.
Nevertheless, we must not make the mistake of considering one political party as interlocutor for our action;. we can find people in all the parties who can fruitfully collaborate with us. We must always remember that the division between progress and reaction is no longer right-left, but the one stated in the Ventotene Manifesto:
“The dividing line between progressive and reactionary parties no longer coincides with the formal lines of more or less democracy, or the pursuit of more or less socialism, but the division falls along a very new and substantial line: those who conceive the essential purpose and goal of struggle as being the ancient one, the conquest of national political power (...) and those who see the main purpose as the creation of a solid international State (...)”
Another noteworthy point is the election of the new President of the Italian republic. After seven years, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, whom the federalists thank for his commitment to the European unity, left his post to Giorgio Napolitano, a personality that has expressed his vision of a united and federal Europe many times, taking part in some federalist events. Napolitano wanted to be present at the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Altiero Spinelli’s death: on May 21st he went to Ventotene (where Spinelli is buried), together with three ministers of the new government. GFE (JEF-Italy) was present, and a 8-metre banner stating “European Constitution Now!” was hanging just in front of the stage. GFE and the young federalists were quoted by the President as ‘the avant-garde of the European young people’.
The new political situation in Italy seems to be more favourable to the European project. Italy can play an important role in pushing for an initiative of pro-European governments. I hope that we will not miss the chance.