Calenda against everyone

The leader of Action arrives in Bologna while his deputy, Ricchetti, is at the center of a controversy over alleged harassment. He promises complaints and hits hard. Right. Left. Grillini. Newspapers. He is stern, tough, contemptuous. He is the perfect anti-populist

Bologna. When Carlo Calenda arrives at the meeting with his supporters, a small media earthquake is underway. “Fanpage will take a complaint,” he says. “The mud will remain stuck on the hands of those who pull it. And to those who masterminded all this, I say: you will be ashamed in record time”. Fanpage – you may have read – has posted a video in which a woman with a darkened face accuses the senator Matteo Ricchetti, who is Calenda’s right arm, of having molested her. A very bad story – obscene proposals, hands under his skirt, unsolicited kisses, photos of his penis – all in his office in the Senate, in November 2019 (Ricchetti, 48, married with children, replies that nothing is true, that against him there are no complaints, that the woman has already been, yes, she has been reported for stalking, and is already known to the judiciary).

It is 6.30 pm and we are at the Opificio Golinelli, an old factory converted into a cultural center, on the outskirts of the city, on the road that leads to Borgo Panigale. Here, in a white and aseptic room, seated on plastic chairs, there are just under four hundred people. On the walls, white flags with the logos of Action and Italia Viva. And, on stage, Carlo Calenda who hits hard.

First objective: the press (given the scandal that happened to him between head and neck one week after the vote, this can also be understood). “Journalism in this country has paved the way for populism.” Then the Melons (“He doesn’t know what democracy is”). Salvini (“They said it was dangerous, at most he could make a coup at the bakery downstairs”). The center-right everything (“It will crash in four months”). The 5 Stars (“The party of a fool, in fact they only made people laugh”). Poor Enrico Letta, a bit for everything (“My son, there’s no politics like that”). Calenda is severe, tough, contemptuous. All the time you harangue him, it seems to hear an older brother, more diligent than us, who has had the thankless task of putting the house back in order. Every now and then, he gets the vague impression that he’s about to hit someone.

The easiest way to frame it is to try to reconstruct its history. Grandfather Carlo was ambassador, diplomatic advisor to Pertini, married to a Sicilian princess. The other grandfather, Luigi, a famous director, severe, austere, of the Waldensian faith, but married to a Catholic who wanted to have her grandson baptized. His parents, Fabio and Cristina, rich in families but sixty-eight. Fight continues, PCI. They live without spending a penny, then they divorce, she ends up as a director like her father, he in an investment bank, now he has retired to Salento and is a writer. And the young Carlo? A rebel. He does the joints, responds badly to the teachers, skips school to go and play billiards. Fgci card holder, he works in the kitchen at Unity parties. Then, at 15, the unexpected: he gets the secretary of his mother’s new husband pregnant, much older than him, and her early paternity puts him back in line. At eighteen he knows the right woman, has had three more children and they are still together (the day before the wedding he had a shark tattooed on his forearm (“I was drunk,” he said, “and anyway now I’m fatter and it looks like plus a tuna “). Law degree. Spectacular career: door-to-door policy seller, financial consultant, TV rights trading in London (where he met Luca Cordero di Montezemolo), Ferrari, Sky Italia, Montezemolo’s assistant at Confindustria, a few months in the board of directors of Italo And politics: Italia Futura with Montezemolo, Civic Choice with Mario Monti, the Democratic Party. But when the dem are preparing to form Conte 2, out of hatred for the grillini, he leaves and founds Action.

It is in this biography that the secret of his character must be sought. His admirers of him say that he is serious, tenacious, competent, likeable, unpredictable, one of the few politicians to have really worked. They praise his maniacal precision. They remember that it was he who solved the Ilva affair when he was a minister (and this alone is worth a thousand points). His detractors reply that he is technically an exalted one. They call him “the Churchill of the Parioli” or “Bully alone”. They murmur that vanity is everything in his party. That you can’t work with someone who changes his mind every three hours. Which is like the frog in the fairytale, which, in order to look as big as the ox, swells, swells, swells, and ends up bursting.

We, in our small way, can say three things. The first: he knows how to do it, he is much better than he appears on television. The second: he does not make promises, he does not tell anecdotes, he does not throw it in caciara, he flies high, he is the anti-Salvini par excellence. The third: maybe he is really right when he says that he left him, on September 25th, could be the surprise. His bet is to be able to get enough votes to form a national unity government with the Democratic Party and a de-salvinized League, and he who knows if he will succeed. Certainly, his strategy of placing himself in the center and stealing votes left and right made sense. The moderates, Silvio’s orphans, who see in him a reverberation of the Berlusconian man and, with all the good will, just do not feel like choosing a center-right with a very small written “center” and a written “right” one will vote for him. very big. Many exponents of the left-pussy will vote for it – something very different from the left-left – who, at a certain point, looked around and ruled: the Democratic Party? but no, it’s so out of date. And then the third category, potentially very vast. People not too lined up, neither on one side nor on the other, who say: we have tried them all, he is new, he looks good, why not?

And it is only at the end, coming out of the clean and aseptic room, while we think of other categories of possible voters, that a lady we met last week at a meeting of the Democratic Party in Brescia comes to mind. In her sixties, elegant, distinguished. Proudly dem. And in short, it is not that, for Letta, the lady tore her hair. But woe to appoint you the Secretary of Action. “Calenda ?! But Renzi has resurrected! And now Gelmini is a candidate! No, I say: Gelmini! How the hell can a left-wing voter vote for someone like that?”.

Calenda against everyone