Socialist Worker

Nichi Vendola — Listening to the people

Issue No. 1950

Nichi Vendola

Nichi Vendola


Recent regional elections in Italy saw successes for the left. In Puglia the winner was Nichi Vendola, a gay communist and member of Rifondazione Comunista. Here he explains how he won and looks at the choice in Britain.

What do the results of the Italian regional elections mean?

With the defeat of the right wing the Italian people wanted to say a clear no to the politics of liberalism and war. It is a no to everything that prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has represented over these years.

What issues did you highlight in your electoral campaign?

Mainly the issue of listening. The citizens of the Puglia region wanted to be listened to, after years of governments that shut themselves away and governed by decree. The desire to return to being protagonists of their own future was strong, and so participation committees sprang up in almost every town.

I intend to govern through such meetings, without imposing anything but talking with the associations, the trade unions, the movements to reach results that are ever nearer to the needs of local people.

In Britain much has been made of the fact that you won as a gay candidate in the south of Italy.

It is a difficult subject, but one which I have tackled unrelentingly over the course of my life. I am one of the promoters of Lila, the league for the fight against AIDS, and of Arcigay, one of the biggest gay associations. My city, Bari, was also the setting for one of the biggest Gay Pride events in Italy.

The right wing had unleashed a shameful smear campaign against Gay Pride in 2003. But the citizens of Bari welcomed the demonstrators by throwing rose petals from the windows and balconies.

This marked the beginning of the defeat of a certain form of the right wing, which is still a dangerous one, however.

Do you have a message for British voters?

Insist on the need for global peace, against the idea of total war. The left comes to life again when we unite on important and shared issues like that of peaceful coexistence and respect between peoples instead of oppression and the military control of resources.

Translated by Simon Sobrero


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International
Thu 5 May 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1950
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