In The Left-wing Neighborhood Where Giorgia Meloni Grew Up: "Here You Are Not Going To Win But We No Longer Put Our Hands In The Fire"

The awning is on one side of the small square of Santa Eurosia. The applause is timid and the atmosphere does not convey the emotion that a campaign that everyone strives to define as “crucial” should arouse.

“People ask me: How does it end? The truth is that six days are missing and there are still 35 percent of undecided or people who do not know if they will vote,” says Nicola Zingaretti before some 200 people. He is the president of the Lazio region and one of the leading figures of the Democratic Party. Next to him is veteran politician Emma Bonino. “Fate is in our hands. Saying that ‘everyone is the same’ is a way of not assuming the least bit of responsibility for the future of the country,” she affirms at the end of her speech.


They speak in a “friendly” territory, Garbatella, a neighborhood that has always been defined as red but where now more than one fears the shock wave of the rise of Giorgia Meloni. Here the leader of the Brothers of Italy grew up and here she began her political militancy at the age of 15, knocking on the doors of number 8 of the ‘via’ Guendalina Borghese, which was then the headquarters of the youth section of the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) , the neo-fascist party founded in 1946 by a group of Mussolini supporters. Now in the same place there is a headquarters of the party that, according to polls, will be the most voted in the elections on December 25.

At the doors of the premises, which are closed, in what remains of some uncorked posters, slogans that refer to words of order from the past can be read. “Assault on victory,” says one. And another: “We are the lightning that bursts from the sky in the middle of the storm.” On the opposite wall there is another, “From nothing we rise”, the motto of one of the first anti-fascist organizations of the 1920s.

“With words we are all good,” warns Massimo, a 75-year-old retiree who has just picked up his grandchildren at school, not far from the headquarters of the Brothers of Italy. “I’ve been from Garbatella all my life,” he says with that pride that many share in this neighborhood, born in the 1920s with the idea of ​​a new architecture that would dignify the working class, a utopian city for workers. Massimo has always voted for the left. “And this time I will also vote for the PD, I will do it like this,” he says, putting his hands next to his temples, as if making the gesture of putting on blinders like those worn by horses.

He says that he longs for the old days, when he was a trade unionist with FIOM, the representation of mechanical workers and metallurgy in CGIL, the majority union: “I played it in the factory. But there were national contracts, there was a force, now There isn’t. I remember that if the price of milk increased by 5 lira or that of gasoline, we would go on strike… Letta [el líder del PD] He is a Christian Democrat rather than a man of the left, I will still vote, with blinders but I will vote.

Massimo is suspicious of the image of moderation on which Meloni has built his election campaign. Still this Monday in an interview on Italian public television, the leader of the ultra party professed her break with the past, assuming as her own the words “fascism as absolute evil”, which marked the end of the MSI and the birth of the National Alliance, the party that Silvio Berlusconi included in his government. The remarks came hours after a Brothers of Italy leader in Sicily and a candidate for election was suspended with immediate effect for praising Adolf Hitler on social media.

“Italy is an intrinsically fascist country, which has not dealt well with the past yet. Everyone loves the strong boss, who gives simple and simplified answers, like the flat taxthe equal tax for all that the right promises…”, says Tommaso D’Alessio, a retired university professor who is also president of the local circle of Legambiente, an environmental organization that has managed to transform what was a large vacant lot into a park and in an urban garden.

Neighbors plant and water a few hundred meters from the huge building of the Lazio Region, governed by the PD in alliance with the 5 Star Movement (M5S, for its acronym in Italian). It is the so-called “wide field” that was tried to replicate at the national level and failed when the M5S contributed to the fall of the Mario Draghi government. D’Alessio believes that the center-left will win again in the neighborhood. “But I do not put my hand in the fire. Because people on the left are always ready to make all the distinctions of the case, forgetting that politics is the art of the possible.” He confesses that the first person he has to argue with is his daughter, who threatens not to vote: “I hope I don’t have to withdraw my greeting.”

D’Alessio’s daughter is not the only one who can stay home.

“Meloni? I don’t appreciate her. But I won’t go to vote. Before, yes, I voted for the left. Then I voted for the 5-Star Movement. And this time I won’t go. Everyone has disappointed me,” says Ivo, 65 years old. He is with his brother Marco de he, 55, and his mother, Lella, 83, in a cafe next to the stalls of a small market at the entrance to the neighborhood. None of the three intends to go to the polls.

“The truth is that I haven’t made up my mind yet either. I’ve always had an idea. Garbatella is all on the left but people complain. What does this left do?” says Paola Menichetti. She is 65 and for decades she and her family have been running a bar that is also a club for Roma, the capital’s football club, and which has become an attraction for tourists since it came out on a popular Serie. A place full of photos of the youngest members of the team, of Totti, of some coach that she no longer remembers so fondly; a place where time passes between talks that last the minutes needed to have a quick “al vetro” coffee, a espresso served in a small crystal glass. “Politics is hardly talked about. People complain when they come here and read the newspaper… ‘This is like this, and this is like that, they are all the same’. But then nobody does anything. And what is most talked about, if I tell you the truth, it’s about football,” says Menichetti, who regrets that people change their minds “as the wind changes.” Here, if someone from the right comes, they don’t say so. “They are like tifosi from Lazio, they don’t say. Why? If you’re on the right, you can say so.”

Andrea, who has been working for five years in a kiosk in front of the neighborhood school, does not hesitate to say that she will vote for Meloni. “I haven’t voted for 20 years and this time I think I’ll vote for her,” she says. From her privileged observatory – “I listen too much here” – she assures that more than one will. “There are those who think that she is a storyteller and those who don’t, who say that now that she has come to where she has come she has already forgotten where she came from, there is everything. A week ago I would have told you that she was going to win, but not anymore HE”.

In this “I don’t know” the last days of the campaign are played. In the school to which Garbatella belongs, it is decided what some call, with soccer jargon, the Derby, because the heads of the list are Zingaretti and Meloni. “The cancer of populism collects discomfort and launches it against democracy. We have to give hope that things can change,” says the PD candidate, closing his speech at the rally, in the square just a few meters away of which was the parish of Meloni, the church of San Filippo Neri. He is listened to by some militants and also by the president of the district, Amedeo Ciaccheri, who won the last municipal elections here in the second round with almost 70 percent of the vote. It is one of the smallest municipalities in Rome but includes 150,000 people. The president has come to support Zingaretti, although he does not have a PD card: he comes from the social centers and from the formations of the ecological left. “I’m really on the left,” he tells elDiario. It’s as if he wanted to make a joke. Although it is not so much. Ciaccheri, 34, explains that relations with the leader of the region are good and there is harmony, but he is not convinced by the PD’s strategy at the national level: “There has been a lack of investment in the generational change. And he has had to build a campaign election to say that he doesn’t want the country that the right wants”.



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