Party war over rubbish leaves garbage on streets


ROME - Hidden behind the twinkling Christmas decorations, the piles of rubbish littered around Rome may have been missed by tourists snapping photos of the beautiful ancient city. In the bleak January daylight, those who remain are not so lucky. Garbage pile-ups have plagued Rome’s residents for years, and yet, it appears the government has deliberately ignored help in cleanup efforts for the city.

 Since the Malagrotta landfill was closed in August 2013, Rome has been unable to recycle her own waste without help. Instead, she relies on sending rubbish on trains over the border to Austria, or on spending tons to send waste to plants in Emilia Romagna at Parma, Modena, and Granarolo.

 Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, has backed down from an expected deal with Emilia Romagna governor, Stefano Bonaccini, which would alleviate several tons of rubbish from the city. Instead, Rome’s streets continue to be lined which the remnants of Christmas cheer. As quoted in news sources, Bonaccini has described the decision as “surreal.” 

 With pre-election tension in the air, the Italian political parties do not agree on much, preferring to stamp out their individual positions on a multitude of issues. Garbage pile-ups are the most recent sticking point for the campaigners.

 Matteo Renzi, ex-premier and member of the Democratic Party (PD), has slammed the ruling 5 Star Movement (M5S) party for ignoring offers of help from PD regions Emilia Romagna and Abruzzo. In the words of PD member Gianfranco Librandi the “disposal of waste in Emilia Romagna would be too big a gift to the Democratic Party in view of the elections. But does Raggi realise that first comes the [position of] mayor of Rome and only after comes the supporter of the 5 Star?”

 M5S supporters have vocalised the government’s efforts on Facebook. “Rome has held up to the avalanche of waste that invades every city every Christmas.” The Environmental Chief and 5 Star member Pinuccia Montanari explained that “in Rome, the collection system has kept in front of a surge in waste production.” On top of this, “unlike Renzi and the PD, we are not staging an election campaign, but we are thinking of the interests of the people.”

 Yet, for the residents of Rome, a political battle over rubbish strewn over the streets holds little appeal.