The first round of voting in Como’s local administrative elections is on Sunday June 11th. The vote in Como and in a number of other provincial councils is for the mayor and for the team of councillors listed under the banner of each party or group. If no clear winner for mayor emerges on June 11th, a second round of voting will be held on Sunday June 25th. Recent polls suggest a close result and if so, this will be the case.
EU citizens resident in Como have the right to vote in these elections as explained in my recent article, but the deadline for registration is now well passed. Here is my attempt to offer a minimum explanation of the process and background to these elections – intended both for those wishing to vote and for anyone looking for some electoral demystification.
The actual vote is in two parts. The first is to select your preference for mayor. The second is to select which candidate in each party list you prefer. The two selections are linked in that each mayoral candidate has his or her personal list of councillor candidates. However two of the mayoral candidates are associated with more than one group or list in that they represent coalitions. In the case of coalitions, there are separate lists of councillor candidates for each group/party within the coalition.
The first part of voting for the mayoral candidate is simple in that you just put a cross through the party/group symbol of your preferred candidate. In the case of the two candidates representing coalitions, before you place your cross through the symbol of one of the parties in the coalition you must consider from which party list you wish to select your councillor candidate. So let’s take mayoral candidate Maurizio Traglio as an example. He is the mayoral candidate for the centre left coalition so his name is associated with each of the parties in that coalition, namely Svolta Civica per Como, Ecologisti, Rete Civiche and finally the Partito Democratico. A cross through any of those parties’ symbols will be a vote for Traglio but if you want to select a councillor candidate from the list of Svolta, you must select the Svolta symbol and not one of the other three parties in the coalition.
The second part is less straightforward in that you need to go to the polling station knowing the name of your preferred councillor candidates. Next to each party/group symbol is space to write in the name (surname only) of your preferred candidate. Actually there are two spaces since you can also specify a second candidate if they are a different sex from your first selection.
I am afraid I have no idea how the votes are subsequently counted and apportioned but no votes are counted if they contain any other writing on the form beyond the cross to select the mayor and the names of two possible councillors. I assume the names must also be spelled correctly to count as a valid vote.
The two front runners in the elections polls are the two coalition candidates with Maurizio Traglio for the Centre Left and Mario Landriscina for the Centre Right (Lega Nord, Fratelli d’Italia and Forza Italia). The current administration is centre left, apparently the first centre left administration in Como since the war. There were fears that local scandals over the ‘paratie’ (see Liberating the Lakefront for info) and the defunct ‘Ticosa’ site might disadvantage the centre left but the competition seems evenly balanced at the moment.
The other candidates for mayor include Francesco Scopelliti (Como Futura and Giovane Como), Alessandro Rapinese for Rapinese Sindaco, Fabio Aleotti for the Movimento 5 Stelle, Celeste Grossi for La Prossima Como, and Bruno Magatti for Civitas. The easiest way to access the manifestos for each of these candidates is via the Como Comune website .
Apart from the stalls set up under the plastic gazebos (or even the temporary offices set up for some mayoral candidates) the best source of information on the concerns of Como’s citizens and the attitudes of the candidates has been presented in the local press or through the discussions and debates set up in the Teatro Sociale. From this it appears that the greatest concerns are about the future of tourism, parking and bureaucracy!
It is interesting to note that, in spite of Como being a tourist destination since the eighteenth century, the city is still not totally convinced as to whether its future wealth lies primarily there or in industry.
What complicates the modern day mindset is perhaps the recent memory of Como’s glorious years as a centre for silk manufacture – a period that in reality only lasted about 100 years from the 1860s to 1960s. Silk dyeing, printing and finishing are still present but the sight of the rotting Ticosa factory is itself sufficient a symbol of Como’s change in fortunes. The same uncertainty about a future destiny marks the debate over parking with resistance from some quarters to the extension of parking restrictions and vehicle access in the centre. Again, traffic free streets favour tourism although some local shopkeepers don’t seem to appreciate the economic value that unrestricted pedestrian access brings to the city centre.
Bureaucracy in Italy has been a complaint for so many years – its roots may have lain in Napoleonic administrative habits evolving through further degenerative entrenchment during the prolonged fascist regime. In Como we look across the border to Ticino in the Swiss Federation and see how the contrasting administration there is much more business-friendly. Unfortunately bureaucratic habits stem from legal and political complexities, reinforced through lack of investment in and resistance to technological innovation which in turn may be the result of how the bureaucratic mindset has evolved. I am not sure that local administrations can do much about this by themselves but at least they can and should orientate the city to where its future sustainable economic and social interests lie. That is worth voting for.