The center-left Democratic Party (PD) of the Italian opposition has chosen Elly Schlein, a 37-year-old American and Italian citizen who grew up in Switzerland, as its new leader to rebuild the group after last year’s failed elections.

Despite her lag in the polls, Schlein defeated veteran Stefano Bonaccini in a vote among PD supporters on Sunday by about 54% to 46%, after promising to make her party more radical to challenge the ruling conservative coalition.

Schlein will lead the opposition in Parliament against Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, putting two women at the head of the country’s two largest parties for the first time in Italian history.

Schlein and Meloni have different points of view on a whole range of topics.

Meloni portrays himself as a defender of traditional families and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on sex and abortion. Schlein is in a relationship with a woman and supports LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality.

Schlein worked in the campaign team of former US president Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and has been compared in the Italian media to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic politician from New York, for her unexpected rise and activist zeal.

She has said that she wants to unite her divided party and work on the transition to a greener economy, labor reform and wealth distribution.

“The Democratic People are alive and ready to rebel. This is a clear mandate for real change,” said Schlein on Sunday evening. “We will focus on the fight against all forms of inequality and insecurity.”

Although she has promised a new start for the party, many PD greats have rallied behind her in recent weeks. Bonaccini is president of the rich region of Emilia-Romagna and profiled himself as a solid administrator. According to opinion polls, he would easily defeat Schlein, but in the end he received strong support only in the more traditionalist South. Schlein faces a huge battle as she hopes to smooth out divisions within her party and defeat Meloni’s conservative bloc in the next national election in 2027.

Although the PD came in second in the 2022 election, polls show it has lost touch with working-class voters.

About the author: Nick Schramm

Nick Schramm is tech savvy with strong engineering education behind. His interest in sciences helps the whole WeeklyNewsReview stuff to keep informed about various topics of the modern technology.

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