Sunday, October 16, 2005

(I'm Not) Voting In Italy's First Ever Primary

The Italian center left opposition coalition is trying be modern and show up the distinct lack of intra coalition in the governing CDL (a wholy owned subsidiary of Mediaset SPA) by holding Italies first ever nation wide primary to choose it's candidate Prime minister. The idea is that ordinary Italians will choose the prime minister not the usual gaggle of party bosses. It is assumed that the vast majority of the voters will vote for Romano Prodi, the candidate chosen by the leaders of the large opposition parties.

The only way this could fail to happen is if supporters of Berlusconi (who are getting rare on the ground) vote strategically for an unelectable alternative such as the still communist Fausto Bertinotti or the sureally unprincipled Clement Mastella who spent the day he could theoretically be elected to lead l'Unione denouncing l'Unione.

Public buildings aren't available for the primary which is legally just like the election of a club president or something so voting took place in gazebo's next to normal voting places.

One important normal feature of Italian elections (in contrast to the unusual US approach) is that people don't have to register to vote. The state keeps a registry of all citizens who must have a legal (voting) address.

L'Unione, being progressive and all, decided that imigrants incuding extracomunitari (imigrants from outside of the EU) could vote so long as we have been legally resident in Italy for 3 years.

I was curious so I went to ask if I could vote. I learned that I would have been allowed to vote (I would have voted for Prodi) if I had registered at City hall 4 or more days ago.

Thus I am one of the very few people in human history who has lost the right to vote in an election in Italy by failing to register.

While laughing at myself, I was very impressed by the people who volunteered to man the gazebos and the actually rather numerous voters who showed up to display support for the Unione and to make absolutely sure that an electable candidate was nominated.

L'Unione claims that 3 million people voted (40 million eligible) which is a lot for an unofficial election whose outcome was not in doubt. So far 70% of the counted votes are for Prodi.

The turnout around here was impressive.

Update:
Almost 4 million voters. Prodi received over 73 % of the votes

The turnout was clearly much higher than expected. also note that the Unione of opposition parties in Italy managed to count votes a bit more quickly than the USA did in 2000 (not that this was a squeaker).

Second place went to the still communist Fausto Bertinotti.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

BEPPE GRILLOS'OPINION ABOUT PRIMARY
Beppe Grillo is a famous Italian showman. He is considered the Italian Michael Moore. Expelled from TV (under Italian premier Berlusconi's control), Grillo writes his opinions about Italy's situation every day on his blog. Now Beppe Grillo's blog is also in English language.
www.beppegrillo.it/eng/
About primary see
http://www.beppegrillo.it/eng/2005/10/testing_direct_democracy.html#comments

http://www.beppegrillo.it/eng/2005/10/testing_direct_democracy.html#comments

dedee said...

I neither voted, as italian living abroad. I have no big opinion of that election. The leadership of Prodi was never in doubt, and he's the only one who can lead the centre-left parties to a win, everybody knows that even in the other coalition parties. The primary where a test for distribuiting the quotes of ballots in case the election law wasn't changed...

p.s. Beppe Grillo was expelled from italian TV much earlier as Berlusconi toke control, he was expelled for his critics to Mr. Craxi and the socialist party, in the late eighties.