The increasingly demoralised Italian left is back at the polls, choosing its latest leader to take on the seemingly-untouchable Sivio Berlusconi.
The Democratic Party was born two years ago, in a merger of several left-wing groups to take on the prime minister’s right-wing alliance. Most of all, people want action. “We must be united, if not there will never be real change,” said one activist. “I voted for change, an alternative to this government which is taking Italy downhill,” said another. There are three candidates vying for the job. Dario Franceschini became interim leader when Walter Veltroni resigned earlier this year. He shepherded the party towards this vote. The favourite is Pier Luigi Bersani, a minister in three previous leftist governments who enjoys strong support from the unions. Then there is Ignazzio Marino, who is seen as very much the outsider. The vote comes as the left is struggling with a sex scandal involving the governor of Lazio. Piero Marrazzo stepped aside when four policemen were suspended for allegedly trying to blackmail him over links to a trans-sexual prostitute.