Butcher gives `red Bologna' the chop

BOLOGNA "THE RED", the affluent bastion and showcase of Italy's reformed Communists, has fallen after 54 years of left-wing administration. In a closely fought second ballot it voted in a right-wing mayor, Giorgio Guazzaloca, who took took 50.69 per cent of the vote, beating his left- wing rival, Silvia Bartolini.

The left's humiliation in Bologna was the most startling result in local and provincial elections on Sunday, which were characterised by record absenteeism. Only 41 per cent of Italians turned out to vote.

Candidates of the right-wing Freedom Front, led by Silvio Berlusconi, also took the Tuscan town of Arezzo, another left-wing bastion since the Second World War, as well as the strategic province of Milan, where the right already controls the city and the regional assembly.

The loss of Bologna, which is to become the European Capital in 2000, comes two weeks after the surge in support for the centre-right in European elections. The defeat stunned the left, although the fact that the left- wing candidate failed to be elected at the first ballot was a warning signal.

As leaders began a post-mortem examination, commentators blamed local and national factors. "The butcher Guazzaloca has made mincemeat of the left," said the Rome daily Il Messaggero, referring to the profession of the victor. It added that infighting between the main left-wing party, DS (Left Democrats), and followers of the former prime minister Romano Prodi had cost them dearly at the polls.

The paper also said Mr Guazzaloca's victory should not be attributed to the Freedom Front but rather to his independent, down-to-earth campaign, with the slogan "A 360-degree candidate".

Mr Guazzaloca, 55, who left school to work in the family butchery when he was 15, is a well-known figure and for years held the influential post of president of the chamber of commerce.

For decades Bologna's thriving economy, low unemployment and efficient social services had been the pride of Italy's left. In the Seventies, when the Italian Communist Party still talked about class struggle, Bologna and other centres in Italy's central "Red Belt" were the living proof that the left was capable of working with business and running efficient city administrations.

In recent years, though, residents have complained that the quality of city services has declined. The crime rate, though still low, has increased and, despite the city's reputation for tolerance, there are concerns about an influx of immigrants.

But Gianfranco Pasquino, a political scientist and former senator, thinks squabbling rather than poor management of the city was to blame. "The bickering between Prodi and [prime minister Massimo] D'Alema and others within the centre-left have disappointed many of their traditional supporters." While most analysts believe the centre-left coalition has governed admirably under Mr D'Alema, many grassroots supporters feel the left has an identity crisis. The DS national co-ordinator, Pietro Folena, admitted that last week's announcement of further pension reform, violently opposed by trade unions, had also played against them.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk