Election Fever?

Election times are looming. No I’m not talking about that incredible Mayan volte-face in the UK but our own local elections in Bagni di Lucca. If you are resident of the comune then you have every right to vote not just in the European parliament elections (something which may soon be denied to those citizens resident in the UK) but also in your local elections.

All you need to vote is

  1. Proof of residency – your Italian ID card is best
  2. A voting card
  3. Any further proof of identity e.g. an Italian driving license is useful.

What you need to know is

  1. When you can vote (elections are promised for the end of May start of June – final date to be established).
  2. Where you can vote. The polling stations are usually in local schools.
  3. Who to vote for.

You are, in fact voting for the sindaco or mayor who is not, unlike so many UK boroughs, a ceremonial figure but someone more akin to the Mayor of London or the leader of a local council – someone who has the power to change things in the community.

I am certainly not going to tell you who to vote for but if you are entitled to vote and don’t bother then don’t complain about what happens to Bagni di Lucca after the results.

I can, however, tell you something about the political history of Bagni di Lucca. In one word it is conservative with a small c. It’s, indeed, one of the southernmost outposts of right wing politics. One of BDL’s most distinguished visitors in the past was Irene Pivetti. At age 31 Irene was the youngest President of Italy’s chamber of deputies and has been closely associated with  Forza ItaliaMovimento Sociale ItalianoLega NordCentro Cristiano Democratico. In her favour Pivetti did oppose independence for Padania (the Po valley) and was thrown out of her party for her views. A strong Roman Catholic, Pivetti has associated herself with another strong right-winger Salvini in her bid to become mayor of Rome last year.

This right-wing bias in local politics has distinguished BDL from such comunes as Borgo a Mozzano who have tended to be rather more leftish in their ideologies, especially with the highly popular Francesco Poggi who was mayor for two mandates of five years each (the standard period one is mayor) from 2004 to 2014.

What’s important to concentrate your mind on the forthcoming elections is whether the candidates are supported by so-called ‘angels from heaven: i.e. the ‘big’ from the major Italian political factions, or whether they are ‘lista civica’, a special designation which denotes that there are no direct connections to these factions but, instead,  that candidates have a locally promulgated aim to do something about the situation in the comune. This is why ‘lista civica’ always goes with mottoes like ‘andare oltre’ (go beyond), ‘rinascita’ (rebirth) or ‘progetto rinascimento’ (renaissance project) as the present lista civica mayor Massimo Betti christens his project.

Anyway, so far there are four candidates for election as Mayor of Bagni di Lucca for the next five years. It’s a real disappointment that there is no woman among them.  (Although there was Sabatina Antonella for a short while in 2007 when the comune was put under unelected administration).

Here is a list of the candidates:

Massimo Betti   Lista Civica ‘Progetto Rinascimento’ Middle Mayor since 2012
Claudio Gemignani   Right of centre with strong backing from the ‘big’ of Forza Italia and Lega Nord Toscana ‘Un Futuro per Bagni di Lucca’ Young Worked as counsellor under two previous administrations
Quinto Bernardi   Right of centre. Oldish Associated with Casa della Libertà.
Paolo Michelini   Lista civica ‘Uniti per cambiare’ Oldish Partito Democratico – Renzian centre-right. Long political administrative experience.


Interestingly all four candidates want to carry out the same types of policies among which are:

  1. Big boost for tourism industry in Bagni di Lucca
  2. Better use of limited financial resources
  3. Job creation, especially in tourism, to stop flight of young people from the area.
  4. Improved public transportation and major road repairs
  5. Stopping corruption and tax evasion, particularly from foreign workers and those involved in private B & Bs and unregistered holiday lets.
  6. Enhancement and new use for the wonderful properties the comune owns such as Villa Ada, Villa Fiori etc.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating of course and the purpose of this post is not to influence any of the hard-pressed and worthy citizens of Bagni di Lucca in their voting. It is, however, worth meeting up with the candidates and quizzing them to see how genuine they are in their promises. Regrettably, Italian politicians, like most politicians in the world, are not famous for their consistency and promises. Yet it is precisely these qualities which are most needed to lift Bagni di Lucca up from the enchanted spider-webbed castle it still seems to sleep in oblivious depth.