Damiano Tommasi, the ex-soccer player who has snatched the City Hall of Verona to the right 30 years later | International

The speaker of the Olympic stadium he was listing the Roma players every time they jumped onto the field: the name and his nickname. Cafú, Totti, Samuel… And when he became the starting defensive midfielder of that team that won the shield 2001, shouted: Damiano Tommasi, The candid soul. The reason was mainly that he was a very good guy. A different footballer who read books and had a left-wing political commitment, always on the side of the disadvantaged and social causes. He was so honest, they still remember the tifosi Romanistas with joy, that when he had a knee injury and was in dry dock for a year, he renounced his salary and only accepted to collect 1,000 euros a month. A personality and a sense of justice that he has maintained over the years and that this Sunday served him, in the second round of the Italian municipal elections, to reach the mayor of Verona: the first time for the left in 30 years.

Tommasi, 48, is the symbol used by the progressive coalition to push his chest in Sunday’s elections, where the center-left has prevailed in cities such as Parma, Piacenza, Monza, Catanzaro or Alessandria. Minor seats, from the electoral point of view. Especially when compared to the big capitals. But they represent a joy and a change of wind at a crucial moment, where there are already few duels left before the general elections next spring. This was emphasized by Enrico Letta, general secretary of the Democratic Party (PD). “This is a result that strengthens us in perspective of the future, in the construction of a center-left that is a winner at the national level for next year’s elections.”

Cazorla fights for a ball with Italian midfielder Damiano Tommasi, Levante player.
Cazorla fights for a ball with Italian midfielder Damiano Tommasi, Levante player.EFE

In the 13 provincial capitals where voting took place, the center-right had 10 mayors and the center-left 3. After these elections, the progressives have obtained seven victories and the conservatives four, of which two are civic lists. A complete and detailed analysis of the results, however, would not allow the left to claim such a clear victory. But the case of Tommasi – who also played for Levante, Verona and the national team – can be interpreted as a sign of change, since the Lombard city has been a fiefdom of the right and traditional Catholicism for the last three decades. . A place where a radical cultural line was imposed – an anti-abortion congress was held here and the City Council approved a motion to declare its rejection of the interruption of pregnancy – which is now changing hands due to various factors. Tommasi, who was also president of the soccer players union, has been presented with a civic list supported by the entire center-left, something already quite exceptional.

The former soccer player does not share practically any trait with the rest of the politicians who competed in the second round of these municipal elections in 65 municipalities (two million voters). During the campaign he toured the entire city on foot and did not give any election rally. He only talks directly with citizens and a calm and very dialogic style. A practicing Catholic, he prefers to avoid declaring himself on the left, something that has also allowed him to conquer part of a more centrist electorate. But the disputes in the right-wing coalition have also helped him.

In the first round, held on June 12, Federico Sboarina had won more votes, supported by the Brothers of Italy and La Liga, while Forza Italia presented its own candidate, Flavio Tosi, thus dividing the votes of the right and extreme right. . In the second round held this Sunday, Tommasi obtained around 53.5% of the votes compared to 46.5 for Sboarina. This is how he conquered Verona, where the center-right had governed since 1994, with the exception of Paolo Zanotto, who was mayor of the city from 2002 to 2007.

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Tommasi comes from a long tradition of Catholic associationism. In fact, he founded a school named after Don Milani, the parish priest of the Emilia Romagna region who dedicated his life to the education of the poor. A DNA far removed from the traditional and dogmatic Catholicism that has prevailed in the city for years. “This political proposal turns the page on a city that has been waiting for this moment for a long time. We managed to campaign without speaking against, without attacking or denigrating the adversary”, he pointed out after the victory.

Tommasi’s victory also exposes the cracks in the right-wing coalition. Matteo Salvini (La Liga) and Giorgia Meloni (Brothers of Italy) are vying for the leadership of the group and the tensions are already undisguisable. The advantage they had in the polls could be reduced if Salvini fails to contain the bleeding of votes from his party and if agreements do not come for the candidates who will have to attend the following elections, as has already happened in last Sunday’s .

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