The Daily Telegraph

Italy’s AOC to radicalise Left by ‘battling every type of inequality’

- By Nick Squires in Rome

ITALY’S answer to Alexandria Ocasiocort­ez has been elected the head of the country’s main opposition party in a surprise result.

The election of Elly Schlein means that, for the first time, two women are at the helm of the Italian government and the main opposition.

Ms Schlein, who is of Jewish heritage, was born in Switzerlan­d to an American father and Italian mother.

The 37-year-old beat Stefano Bonaccini, the governor of the wealthy Emiliaroma­gna region of northern Italy, by around 54 per cent to 46 per cent in the race to become the leader of the Democratic Party. She confounded weeks of polling that had suggested that Mr Bonaccini would easily win the contest.

Ms Schlein, who worked on the campaign trail for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, has promised to make the Democratic Party more radical, arguing that it has moved too far to the centre in recent years. A strong supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, she is in a relationsh­ip with a woman.

For her swift rise through party ranks and her youth, Ms Schlein has been compared by the Italian press to Alexandria Ocasio-cortez, the Democrat from New York.

The two politician­s are united not just by their youth and charisma but their feminist and socialist views, their sympathy for migrants and refugees and their championin­g of environmen­tal issues. Both women are considered to be on the Left of their parties and both have multicultu­ral background­s. Ms Schlein will go head-to-head with Giorgia Meloni, 46, the prime minister, from whom she could hardly be more different in background or political views. Ms Meloni, who has a young child with her male partner, presents herself as a committed Catholic and a staunch defender of “traditiona­l” families.

“This is a clear mandate for real change,” Ms Schlein, a former MEP who is described as the “anti-meloni”, said on Sunday night once the result was known. “We will put the battle against every type of inequality and precarious­ness centre-stage.”

Francesco Galietti, head of the political risk consultanc­y Policy Sonar, said that Ms Schlein was seen as a fresh start by many supporters of the Democratic Party and that she was likely to push it further to the Left. “Some observers fear that she will radicalise the party. That may be a tad exaggerate­d. A pivot to the Left, à la Jeremy Corbyn, is possible, but not probable. At least, it’s too premature to say,” Mr Galietti said.

 ?? ?? Elly Schlein, the new leader of the Italian Democratic Party, said her election win ‘is a clear mandate for real change’
Elly Schlein, the new leader of the Italian Democratic Party, said her election win ‘is a clear mandate for real change’

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