All the indications are that supporters of Italy’s centre-left government have elected Walter Veltroni as leader of the new Democratic Party. Veltroni, who is also Mayor of Rome, is set to collect 74 percent of the vote. He told the party faithful that his appointment should bringer greater political cohesiveness:
“We must get back the future which has been badly jeopardised by 13 years of politics characterised by negative clashes and by alliances created on that basis,” he said.
The Democratic Party was born out of infighting in the ruling coalition. Commentators say Veltroni’s appointment anoints him as heir-apparent to Prime Minister Romano Prodi – also leader of the centre-left: “I want to reassure you all that the government has nothing to fear from this new event. In fact, the government will gain fundamental new strength by it.”
The two biggest members of the bloc – the former communist Democrats and the more centrist Daisy Party merged in the hope of stabilising the government. Turnout was much higher than anticipated – more than three million people cast a vote.