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PD’s Gualtieri – the most influential Italian in the European Parliament

Roberto Gualtieri [personal archive]

Italy has its representative in the Bureau of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D group), and his name is Roberto Gualtieri. He was elected vice-president of the group, together with Eric Andrieu (France), Biljana Borzan (Croatia), Miriam Dalli (Malta), Heléne Fritzon (Sweden), Eero Heinaluoma (Finland), Bernd Lange (Germany), Claude Moraes (United Kingodom), Kati Piri (the Netherlands) and Rovana Plumb (Romania). The appointment will allow the member of the Italian Democratic Party (PD) to maintain a key role in the political agenda and in the legislative activity of the European Parliament.

During the VIII legislature (2014-2019) Gualtieri chaired the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee, and was member of the special Brexit Steering Group, set up in order to coordinate and prepare Parliament’s deliberations, considerations and resolutions on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Gualtieri was then at the hearth of the hottest dossier of the European Union. He proved to be capable to coordinate works, to play a pro-active role, to work in order to find compromises and solutions. He gained credibility and authority, and thanks to his job he was listed among the 100 most influential MEPs by VoteWatch, actually in the top-ten of this list. He was ranked on the podium (3rd) for his capacity to influence the activity of the European Parliament.

Difficult re-election

Gualtieri is an asset for Italy. He knows the EU Parliament inside out, he knows what to do and how to do it. His nomination as vice-chair of the S&D group is the right recognition of his skills.

Nevertheless Gualtier seriously risked to be excluded from the new European legislature. Following the European elections, he was re-elected thanks to his comrade Pietro Bartolo. The latter was elected both in the Centre and in the Island constituency, and he renounced to the place won in the center, giving Gualtieri the possibility to come back to the EP.

After this hurdle Gualtieri is back in Brussels to negotiate the strategic agenda for the next five years. Among the four major groups involved in the discussion – Christian-democrats (EPP), Social-democrats (S&D), Liberals (RE) and Greens – he was the only Italian selected to seat around the table.

Italy always a protagonist in the Socialist family

Gulaltieri’s election confirms a good political tradition for Italy within the social-democratic family. Since 1979, year of the first European elections, there has always been an Italian in the Bureau. For PD this the third time in a row when they have a member in the S&D decision room.

The Democratic Party is the result of the evolution of the ancient Italian Communist Party (PCI). In 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of communism, in Italy the members of the party started to think about the way forward. The question was since the beginning what to do next, how to use that political human capital. PCI leaders decided to transform the party in a new, modern, social-democratic party. PCI became the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) and started a new political season.

In Europe the evolution imposed by history brought the post-communists from the Communists group (COM), dissolved after the end of communism, to the parliamentary group of the United Let (GUE). Then, on 12 January 1993, PDS joined the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D group).

Since the first European elections, the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) found its place in the S&D group, so in 1993 Italy started to have two different S&D delegations. Since then PDS got predominance, while PSI was slowly disappearing from the European Parliament.

Meanwhile PDS kept evolving. It started to take on board people from the left-wing of the of the Christian-democrats (DC), by creating a center-left oriented force with some Catholic trace. The end of this process finished with the creation of the current Democratic Party, the only and powerful Italian delegation within the S&D group.

Gualtieri, a good exception for Italy

Looking at the current situation, Gualtieri represents good news for Italy. For the first time in the history of the European Parliament no Italian MEPs sit in the Bureau of the EPP, so Gualtieri is the only Italian holding a key role so far.

The League, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and Brothers of Italy (FdI) may be strong in Italy, but in the European Parliament they are in opposition. There, the only politician really in the position of contributing to shape the decision-making process will be the PD member. 

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