Democratic Party primary rigging scandal rocks left

 ROME -- Another storm has broken in the Democratic Party with Antonio Bassolino, the candidate who was measurably defeated by Valeria Valente at the Naples primary on March 6, appealing the decision after a video was posted online showing money being given to citizens for voting for Valente.  Whilst this first appeal was rejected, he has now launched two more.  Representatives of the central-right party are also shown in the short film hanging around polling stations.

 “This is a grave business,” reacted Bassolino, saying also that he was disgusted. “To respect the freedom and dignity of people is a prerequisite of democracy.”

 On Wednesday the Naples primary’s investigative team were set to examine the evidence.  The Naples prosecution office has opened an investigation into what exactly happened.  Yet the reactions are all political, with the Democratic Party trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  “If somebody has behaved in an inappropriate manner we will be taken a very hard line with that single person,” assured the party’s president Matteo Orfini.

 However, the vote will not be cancelled.  “It is unacceptable to call the primary into question and the clear results that have been ratified,” cleared up the democratic vicesecretary Lorenzo Guerini.  This applies to the “speculations” on the Neapolitan affair as for that in Rome, where the primary post exploded with tension from the minorities.  The capital's primary election is under scrutiny as it has come to light that  electoral commissions failed to correctly count votes, including various thousands of blank or null ballots.  In this case the Democratic Party did admit their mistake with embarrassment.

 On Tuesday some points were at least clarified.  All the testimonies from the left-wing party, from Roberto Speranza to Gianni Cuperlo, have cleared up the hypothesis that they didn’t support Roberto Giachetti in the mayoral race for the capital.  “Whoever won the primary should be supported by everyone,” said Speranza.  He also insisted, however that the decrease in influence in Rome (from 100 thousand to 47 thousands voters) is a “cause for alarm” which will be addressed “with a little more humility and a little less arrogance.”  Referring directly to Orfini, to the point and addressing the minorities, he said, “We want to win.  If you want to give us a hand we would be happy.  If you want to continue to play at congress then go ahead.”

 The proposal to bring forward the Democratic Party Congress that is scheduled for 2017 has therefore been rejected (“it’s crazy," said Orfini), advanced by Speranza also to resolve what, in his opinion, was born from the second term of Matteo Renzi (Italian Prime Minister and Secretary of the party).  Orfini has instead decided “in agreement with Renzi” to convene the national leadership on March 21, as the “appropriate forum for those who want to argue” and to close the case.  Those who support Renzi are annoyed, however, at the tone and timing.  It seems that the pro and anti Renzi members of the Democratic Party are now fighting it out, even if that means losing the big cities.

 "I am not at war, but why should I accept something so clearly offensive? Naples deserves more respect. It should not be me arguing this point; it should be the whole party. This is a sure way of letting the other side win. We have time to decide whether to stand independently or not," stated Bassolini in his most recent appeal.  He has also threatened to leave the party if his appeals are again dismissed.

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Antonio Bassolino