Modena, Italy, where “Tammany Hall” remains undefeated

The voters of Modena have again reelected Gian Carlo Muzzarelli the incumbent Mayor for five more years making the City the “reddest” Town in Italy and the “Democratic Party” the undefeated and uncontested rulers of Modena since WW II. Modena can proudly claim to be the Country’s Fortress of the past, present, and post-Communists, better known as the “Partito Democratico,” what else?

Thanks to the latest win by the 64-year-old professional politician and card-carrying “Democrat” since his freshman days in local politics back when he was only 25 years old, the tens of thousands of jobs dispensed to card-carrying “Dems” in Modena’s city government are safe, at least for another five years.

But the twist this time around was the strong showing by a challenger from civilian life, Stefano Prampolini, a locally known and trusted Accountant. Mr. Prampolini who hails from a family where the women outnumber the men is used to being in the minority. Despite the relatively short, low-keyed campaign, hostile press and with his main political sponsors (the League) under the intimidating eyes of Italy’s politically-biased Public Prosecutors, Stefano nevertheless succeeded in winning over 31 % of the votes. If the situation was the other way around, Muzzarelli who prevailed by a qualified majority of only 54% of the votes would be quick to remind Prampolini that his qualified majority does not entitle him to govern without taking into account Muzzarelli’s significant minority. But you and I both know that such “rules” hold true only for the “Dems”.

Oh, and what does “Tammany Hall” have to do with any of this? With a background like that of the Author’s, the analogy between Muzzarelli the “Dem” and the political machinery of the American Democrats, known as “Tammany Hall”, an old political association founded in 1786 that governed New York City uninterruptedly for nearly a century is practically automatic. It all began with the election of a certain Fernando Wood, a Democrat, to the Office of Mayor of New York in 1854. For the next following eighty years, all of New York’s Mayors would be Democrats until an Italian-American by the name of Fiorello LaGuardia managed to get elected Mayor in 1934.

Over time, New York Democrats became so powerful that Term after Term they always managed to get one of their candidates elected Mayor. This went on for eighty years even when New York State or the Nation was governed by the Republicans. From the days of Abraham Lincoln, the Republicans were a progressive party known mostly for being antislavery. From the end of the Civil War, however, they would become more and more the champions of private enterprise and the free market.

Fiorello LaGuardia was a lawyer and a Republican known for his modern, progressive ideas. He befriended Franklyn Delano Roosevelt (“FDR”) who reciprocated and backed Fiorello in his plans to clean up and modernize New York City. He made federal funds available to LaGuardia who used them wisely. With the backing of other prominent Democrats, like FDR, La Guardia dismantled the corrupt system that Tammany Hall had become and reestablished employment on a merit basis rather than on a patronage basis for city jobs. Fiorello LaGuardia is considered New York’s greatest Mayor of all times.

Like New York, the City of Modena has known but “PD” Mayors since the end of WW II. If the parallel with New York is any indication, “Fiorello LaGuardia” may be just around the corner.