Profile: Torinesi hang their hopes on Appendino

Chiara Appendino

 TURIN -- More than 10 points behind during the first round of voting for the mayoral position Five Star Movement (M5S)’s Chiara Appendino managed to turn the tide around in Turin to beat out-going Democratic Party (PD) mayor Piero Fassino to the post.

 At the age of 32, and with 54.6 percent of the vote behind her in the northern city, Appendino’s election came as somewhat of a surprise after polls had shown that Fassino was likely to keep his position.

 After graduating from Bocconi University in Milan with a degree in Economics, the recent mother turned to politics in 2010, after a two and a half year stint with Juventus’ financial planning team.  The next year she was elected to the city council with Repubblica describing her as an “anomaly of a grillina [supporter of Beppe Grillo who founded the M5S party], quiet of voice and attentive to not making false promises to the electorate.”

 She became increasingly considered independent of the directive body of the M5S; for example, not signing the “contract” which binds Virginia Raggi and other councillors elected in Rome into being M5S staff.  In the past she has claimed to feel “totally” at ease and “integrated into the Movement,” whilst not following the national dynamic of the party.  On this she said, “I’m busy with the area and well-being of my city.”

 Throughout her election campaign she took a strong stance on a variety of issues, including opposing TAV (the proposed high-speed rail link between Turin and Lyon) on both environmental and economic grounds.  “Bills in hand, the costs far outweigh the benefits.  The huge resources needed to implement this could instead be used for our many small jobs that benefit the community.”  This position is strongly against that of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and may bring them to blows in the coming years.

 She appeals to the entrepreneurs and businessmen and women in the city, as the world she represents is one of a good entrepreneurial middle-class with her father working as a manager for 30 years and then working his way up to executive Vice-President of Prima Industrie, whilst her mother worked as an English teacher.

 Appendino’s husband, too, is a young entrepreneur and she works in the family business alongside her political career, as well as being a recent mother after her daughter was born Jan. 19.

 The incoming mayor is also in favour of a universal income – a universal and unconditional salary for all Italian citizens for an indefinite and independent amount of time regardless of their wealth or other sources of income.

 On the question of the Roma population, Appendino has advocated the closure of temporary camps and proposed the closure of the Corso Brunelleschi identification and expulsion centre (CIE), with these measures accompanied by a re-education programme for children and socio-business courses for adults, as well as paid leave for travelling gypsies.