Zingaretti brings hope to Italy's left

Nicola Zingaretti is the new head of the Democratic party in Italy. The 53-year old president of the Italian region of Lazio and former MEP triumphed over two other candidates in the vote. Can Zingaretti breathe new life into Italy's divided left and become a serious challenge to the populist government in Rome?

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El País (ES) /

A strong signal against populism

Zingaretti's election fills El País with confidence:

“The hope inspired by the new leaders of the centre-left is the first step away from the gimmickry and extremism in one of Europe's most important countries. As a former MEP Zingaretti is well aware of Italy's historical significance in constructing the common European project. He also understands the indisputable influence of his country in key areas of EU policy such as economics and immigration. If the path taken by Zingaretti finds support in the elections, Italy could send a clear message to the other European democracies: once populism arrives in power, there's a limit to how far it can go.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

The main opponent is Salvini

The new head of the PD has a very difficult task ahead of him, comments the Tages-Anzeiger:

“Maybe Zingaretti is up to the task of rallying all the progressive, pro-Europe, green forces in the country around him as Romano Prodi once did with the L'Ulivo alliance. If he could get even some of the disappointed Cinque Stelle on his side, he would already be taking on a leading role. He doesn't have much charisma, but then neither did Prodi and it didn't stop him. The question is whether the soft-spoken Zingaretti will ever be able to make himself heard over the incredibly popular and ever-present Salvini, his main rival.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

European elections will test his mettle

Zingaretti's first acid test is just around the corner, columnist Antonio Polito in Corriere della Sera comments:

“Italy is the only country among the founding EU states in which a right-wing nationalist party won an electoral majority. And it would be naive to believe that it's enough to wake the people on the left out of their deep slumber in order to win. The European elections will be Italian elections more than anything else: the people will vote on the economy and the coming crisis, not on the general principles of the European union. By that time Zingaretti will need to have prepared a new political agenda that will bring the PD not only into line with the left but with the country as a whole. So if he wants success, he will need to do a lot more than simply acknowledging the mistakes of the past.”