The upcoming regional elections in Emilia Romagna, are pivotal for Matteo Salvini and the League party, but the far right party, could to be facing some challenges in penetrating in the hearts of Emilians, because of a new movement.

The Sardine Movement, named for its ability to pack millions of people in piazzas like sardines, is a movement founded to fight the anti-immigrants and anti-racism ideologies of the far right party League and its leader, Matteo Salvini.

The movement started in Bologna, the chief town of Emilia Romagna, where four men aged between 20-30  managed to group more than 5000 people in a piazza, to protest against Salvini and the League,while the political leader was visiting the city for a conference.

This social movement became very popular, and quickly spread in different cities of the region  such as: Parma , Modena, Reggio Emilia and in other cities from different regions such as: Florence, Milan, Padova, Treviso and Rome, where last week, the first official national rally, attracting more than ten thousand people was held.

Victoria Oluboyo during Sardine Movement manifestation in Parma

While the movement was mainly to protect Emilia Romagna to be invaded by the League and its ideologies, it has also helped the Partito Democratico ( Democratic Party), in its political campaign.

In conversation with Victoria Oluboyo local member of the Democratic Party in Parma in regards of the Sardine Movement and current political climate in Italy , she said:

“The Sardine Movements stands for more than being against Salvini and the themes of the League party. This movements, stands against hate and inequality. It has encouraged candidates of the Democratic Party to go back to squares and piazzas and reassure Emilians of their promises.

The interest of the Democratic Party in Emilia Romagna, goes beyond politics.

“Emilia Romagna has been the heart of the Democratic Party. Since 1948, the region has been a left winded.If the League wins in Emilia, it will mean the end of the current government. But for our party, it would mean more than that,”says Victoria.

7000 “sardines” in Modena credit: Victoria Oluboyo

Victoria also touched on the racism in Italy and shared a personal anecdote.

“At the moment Italy is racist and sexist as a country, majority of people feel the need to insult someone only because he or she is different. Few days ago, while I was crossing the road someone called me a f*ing n*r. First, people used to think about this racist remarks, but won’t actually say it, but now, not only they are saying it, but they are acting on it. It has become very dangerous”.

But would this movement and the racism allegations be enough to keep Salvini and his party from returning to power?

According to a survey conducted by SWG in November 2019, when asked who were they going to vote in the next elections:

  • 34,1% Italians are likely to vote for Salvini;
  • 17,5% are likely to vote for the Democratic Party.

This numbers confirm  Matteo Salvini popularity, and also shows that many Italians approve of his extremist right winded propaganda.

According to a survey conducted by SWG:

  • 26% of Italians believe that immigration is a danger for the country;
  • 24% of Italians believe that immigration is going to change the Italian identity;
  • 61% of Italians wants the nation boarders to be closed.

In an article written by The Independent, it was stated that under Salvini, 45% of Italians says that racism is justified.

“Politicians and the general public gave too much space and credit to Salvini. Italians that do like Salvini,have found a way to blame immigrants for the corruption and lack of economic growth instead of taking responsibilities and make institutions accountable,” says Benedicta Djumpah, founder of Italiani Senza Cittadinanza (Italians without citizenship) a movement created in 2016 to push for the approval of the IUS SOLI, a law that would have allowed Italians from different origins to be recognised as Italians by law.

“We are born or raised in Italy. We want a citizenship law that reflects the changing nature of the Italian society to have a country that is inclusive and reflects its own Constitution,” explained Benedicta.

However, inclusivity and integrations are things that Benedicta believe are achievable with the right education and awareness, even in this unstable social climate.

“We work with many schools and do cultural works, we are currently working with the teachers of the Saltamuri Group, to create awareness among teachers of the reality of Italians without citizenship. We also speak to different associations to promote anti-racism and inclusivity,” says Benedicta.





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