[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - Abstension won the Regional Elections which took place in Italy last weekend. 14.6 millions of people out of 40.8 millions potential voters decided not to express their opinion. If in 2005 72.01% of Italians entitled to vote took part in the local elections, five years later only 64.19% of potential voters went to the polls.
On the other hand, Mr Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party and Mr Pier Luigi Bersani's Democratic Party, which at the General Elections in 2008 were planning to get rid of all the other political parties, got respectively 26.78% and 26.10%. Today more than ever, Italy proves to be a complex society with peculiar regional differences.
In Northern Italy (Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto, with the exception of Liguria), citizens gave a strong support to the racist and xenophobic Northern League, which actually rose to 12.28% on a national basis. Being the main ally of the People of Freedom, the Northern League allowed Mr Berlusconi to hide his unequivocal defeat.
The less populated and less influential Central Italy (Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria and Marche) confirmed its tradition of red stronghold, according power to the Center-Left.
Southern Italy (Campania and Calabria, where several candidates of both sides were alleged to represent the local mafias, Camorra and 'Ndrangheta) went back to the Center-Right.
Puglia and Lazio were significant exceptions. In Puglia, where the Left was able to impose its candidate Nichi Vendola over the candidate of the Democratic Party, the Center-Left gained a strong and passionate victory. In Lazio, the Rome region where the Democratic Party was unable to present a trustworthy candidate, Mrs Emma Bonino - a member of the anticlerical Radical Party - lost for a handful of votes against the Right trade unionist Renata Polverini.
In Italy abstension reflects the public disgust for politics. Change is coming, but it might be dreadful...
* "Vote yourself so that you understand and we better understand how stupid you are (ZEB)".