Sicily elects governor linked with Mafia

Sicily has confirmed its dubious reputation by enabling Salvatore Cuffaro, a Christian Democrat on trial for complicity with the Mafia, to trounce the sister of a murdered anti-Mafia judge and win a second term as governor of the island.

Mr Cuffaro, nicknamed "Vasa Vasa" [Kiss Kiss] for his tendency to kiss all and sundry - he claims that he has kissed a quarter of all the people on the island - went on trial in Palermo last year. He was accused of tipping off a friend that his phone was being tapped by anti-Mafia investigators tracing links between Sicilian politicians, civil servants and the Mob. He refused to resign when sent for trial, saying he would only do so if convicted.

The decision by Rita Borsellino to run against him turned yesterday's election into a test of the island's readiness to unite and fight the Mafia that extorts protection money from around 80 per cent of tradesmen in Palermo, and makes huge sums through its corrupt domination of public works projects, rubbish disposal and hospital supplies. It is a test Sicily has failed - though Ms Borsellino cut Mr Cuffaro's majority from more than 20 per cent to about 9 per cent. Mr Cuffaro won 52.2 per cent of the vote, against 43 per cent for Ms Borsellino.

A pharmacist whose family run a chemist's shop in Palermo, Rita was the sister of Paolo Borsellino, an investigating magistrate blown to pieces in 1992 by a huge Mafia bomb outside his mother's front door. Two months earlier, his close colleague, Giovanni Falcone, with whom he had been leading a wide-ranging investigation into the Mafia, was killed in the same way along with his wife and bodyguards on a Palermo motorway.

The murders ignited the conscience of Sicilians, who came out on the streets in huge numbers to protest. Rita Borsellino became a figurehead for the first mass anti-Mafia movement. "After the massacres," she said during the campaign, "my life changed fundamentally. I decided to come out of my private life and begin this voyage which has never ended, travelling around Sicily, Italy and other parts of Europe, telling what had happened."

The anti-Mafia campaign subsequently ran out of steam. "We've gone backwards a lot," she said, regarding Sicilian attitudes to organised crime. "The Mafia are a presence in politics again. In these five years, sadly, there have been major steps backwards, including the intertwining of certain Mafia figures and certain politicians."

But her decision to run for governor gave the anti-Mafia movement another shot of life. "The movement re-ignited, they've found a point of reference in me," she said.

But now her movement has run up against the pronounced and perennial conservatism of Sicily - and its willingness to turn a blind eye. "We are up against an adversary that is very powerful and has many means at its disposal," Ms Borsellino said, "and is in power, and retains a certain base of support in the territory among those who believe they will bring material benefits, who believe the promises that have been made to them."

After the result became clear, a Christian Democrat colleague of Mr Cuffaro, Saverio Romano, commented: "It is a personal victory for President Cuffaro who in these years has been heavily slandered, denigrated and attacked, even by other politicians."

But a supporter of Ms Borsellino's, Claudio Fava, said: "Cuffaro started to lose today. This is just the first step. The next will be in Palermo's court house. If you consider the defections from his ticket, Cuffaro has suffered a loss. The fiery power of the centre-right coalition was unable to protect him."

* The centre-left coalition of Prime Minister Romano Prodi kept its grip on cities including Rome, Turin and Naples and forced a run-off election for mayor of Milan, a conservative stronghold, early projections in local balloting indicated. The election for mayors as well as for the governor of Sicily was the first balloting since parliamentary elections on 9-10 April in which Mr Prodi's forces narrowly defeated the conservatives of Silvio Berlusconi.

Suggested Topics
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Sport
sport
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Data Insight Manager - Marketing

£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux / Redhat / Solaris / Puppet / SAN

£65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape