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
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
i100
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

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?