In an exclusive interview with New Europe, S&D’s Italian MEP Massimo Paolucci talks about the consequences of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party breakup and the ‘movement’ that will emerge.
The breakup of the Democratic Party is the consequence of conflicting visions in Italian politics. Can you tell me more about this?
For us, the problem was political and not about the date of the next congress of the party. We asked Matteo Renzi to make deep changes in the political line of the party. First on the labour policy because the Jobs act reform didn’t give the positive results we hoped – on the contrary it has increased job insecurity also through the extensive use of the “vouchers”.
We asked for deep changes on a fundamental topic like education and we also pushed, and this is in Europe a distinctive characteristic of the socialists, to reduce taxes on labour. We don’t agree with the use of flexible margins to reduce for everybody without distinctions the taxes on assets.
Another key topic for us is the “state reforms” that were at the centre of the debate during the constitutional referendum. The ideas of a Parliament with a more and more reduced role, regions divested from their powers and the dissolution of the provinces is clearly not working.
Can you outline the characteristics of the new political party you are building?
It’s not going to be a party, but a movement with very “federative” idea made not only with institutional levels and by the traditional militants – we want to put together the associations and everyone who is moving out of the traditional parties.
The structure will be very light and horizontal with the goal to give concrete answers to the biggest crisis the west ever experienced. I recently read that Martin Schulz in his programme puts into discussion the reforms of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. This topic was taboo for part of the European left.
This political action on labour and on support to the families is key also for us and we want to give our daily contribution in the parliament and to also create a different cultural policy. We lost millions of votes in the previous elections. This is not a PD grab for victory. We are trying to attract again part of our “people” to build up “a dam”.
How are you going to manage the building up of the movement?
Now, after the constitution of the autonomous groups at the Chamber and in the Senate we will establish a national organising committee that will start the constituent phase. We don’t want to built up behind closed doors a movement with a programme and then ask others to adhere. In the first phase, we want in an inclusive way to define the political-cultural profile of this initiative.
Here, I see important themes like: the fight against inequality, which is now a key topic for the European left. Also, there is the problem of how we overcome the split between development and environment protection and last the quality of democracy in our lives.
As regards the EU, what are the differences between you and Matteo Renzi?
In Europe, we made an important battle for flexibility and we have gained some recognition. But this flexibility was used in a bad way.
Some of the critics and observers from Europe argue that our budget is the result of mistakes we have made and therefore we are in a weaker position now. If we continue to fight only for Italy, and we don’t find to change policies at an EU level, our position will be weak and weaker. In this debate, our political group S&D has an important topic to push forward is the modification of the agreement to allowing the investment expenses not to be counted in the stability pact.
Who do you think you can attract to this project? What about the extreme left?
In our project, we want to keep socialists, democratic Catholics, some environmentalists operating in the country. Someone proposed an Ulivo 2.0. We don’t want to create a minor and identitarian movement. Throughout our history, we are coming from the “reformist left” and we accept the challenge to govern the country.
We criticise Renzi, not like others from a minor position, but from a concrete experience governing the institutions.