Sicily's first gay governor opens a new schism between Italy's old enemies

Former bastion of homophobia has overtaken north on equality, says Milanese newspaper

Milan

The stereotype of the macho southern Italian is fading fast. To the amusement of commentators in northern Italy, the victor in Sicily's regional election on Sunday was the openly gay, anti-mafia campaigner Rosario Crocetta.

One of the oddest regional elections in recent times reflected the turbulent state of Italian politics. Apart from a gay winner in deeply conservative Sicily, the centre-right received a drubbing, almost half the population abstained, and the enormous protest vote will see dozens of people in the Five Star Movement, with no political experience, take up councillor seats in Palermo's Palazzo dei Normanni.

Mr Crocetta, 61, who has an armed-escort because of his high-profile campaign against Cosa Nostra, said his victory meant "the Mafia can pack its bags". The outgoing governor, Raffaele Lombardo, quit in July following an indictment for Mafia association.

Mr Crocetta, who represents the centre-left, told reporters that his election showed it was wrong to assume that southern Italy was behind the times in social issues.

Corriere Della Sera, Italy's leading (Milan-based) newspaper said that Sicily – better known for its homophobic Mafiosi, macho aristocrats such as Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and conservative intellectuals like Giovanni Verga – had stolen a march on the north.

"If the new governor hasn't hidden his homosexuality it's because Sicily is no longer the land of Verga, Pirandello and Brancati," it said. "The Sicilian Crocetta is like the Puglia of Nichi Vendola, while up north, squalid macho tribalism is still being celebrated."

Sicily's image for unreconstructed machismo and sexual repression wasn't the only thing to take a drubbing in Sunday's strange election. Silvio Berlusconi's PDL (People of Freedom) party, already on the verge of disintegration thanks to dismal poll ratings and a growing split between pro and anti-Berlusconi factions, suffered a humiliating defeat.

For almost 20 years, Mr Berlusconi's centre-right grouping has come out top in Sicily. In 2008 it received 33.5 per cent of the vote. But with the party wracked by corruption scandals in Lazio and Lombardy, and a seemingly washed-up Silvio Berlusconi alienating more and more voters, the PDL took just 12 per cent on Sunday.

This was less than the share won by stand-up comedian Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement. Earlier this month Mr Grillo swam the two miles across the strait of Messina to Sicily in a warm up for his anti-politics campaign. He was rewarded with 19 per cent of the vote on Sunday.

Mr Crocetta took the most votes, but with a share of just 31 per cent, he was yesterday making overtures to the Five Star Movement and its political debutantes in order to get a working coalition.

The biggest winner in the Sicily elections appeared to be disdain for politics. Over half of Sicily's voters snubbed the elections. Just over 47 per cent of the 2,203,885 eligible voters used the ballot box, compared to 66.68 per cent in the 2008 elections in the region.

La Repubblica newspaper said the result in Sicily was not only strange – but a worrying development given that many considered the poll an important gauge of public opinion ahead of next April's general election.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible