Signs of the times?
The challenge for the Left—as it has been often said—is to wake up and shake off some of its most “conservative” attitudes of mind, such as, for instance, its die-hard anti-Americanism, which sometimes prevents it from perceiving reality. Well, perhaps that is what is happening to the Italian Left, or at least that is what an optimist could dare to think in the light of some recent attitudes. The case of the mayor of Bologna is the last, in chronological order.
Once dubbed "The Messiah of the Left"—in the days when he was leading Italy’s largest trade union—, in his new role as mayor of the prosperous and traditionally left-oriented city of Bologna, Sergio Cofferati is fighting to uphold the rule of law. Once the orchestrator of huge protests against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on behalf of workers’ rights (in 2002 he brought more than one million people onto the streets of Rome), now Cofferati is being accused by some Communist Party allies of playing populist politics, acting more like a hard-knuckled sheriff from one of the comic books he loves than a leftist mayor.
"What we are doing doesn’t seem so very radical to me,” said Cofferati in an interview.
“We have to get away from the mindset—he added—that the left takes care of social solidarity and the right deals with law and order. The two issues are totally entwined and when the left governs it has to tackle both."
According to one opinion poll, in his campaign Cofferati is backed by 85 percent of his fellow citizens. Which is not meaningless in the most Leftist city in Italy. Another sign of the times?