Posted on April 16, 2008

Italy: Two MPs to Represent Four Million Immigrants

Adn Kronos International, April 15, 2008

The only two immigrants to have been elected to the new Italian parliament, “will have the honour of representing 4 million new citizens living in our country,” Italy’s Immigrant Party president Mustapha Mansouri, said on Tuesday.

Italy’s Association of Moroccan women president Souad Sbai (photo) has been elected an MP for election winner Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative People of Freedom party.

Senegalese born Jean Leonard Touadi, a former Rome city councillor, has been elected an MP for the centre-left Italy of Values party.

Mansouri promised his party’s “full support” saying he hoped “channels of dialogue” would be opened with the anti-immigrant Northern League party.

The Northern League made gains in the election, taking over 8 percent of the vote, almost doubling the 4.5 percent it took in the 2006 polls.

It will have 47 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of parliament) and 23 in the Senate (the upper house), according to interior ministry data.

Two other immigrant parliamentary candidates, both fielded by the far left, failed to win seats in Sunday and Monday’s polls.

Frias Merceder Lourdes stood as a leftwing ‘Rainbow’ alliance candidate for the Chamber of Deputies and Khalil Ali, as a senator for the northern Piedmont region.

The ‘Rainbow’ coalition performed abysmally in the election, failing to take a single seat in either house of parliament. Its leader, veteran trade unionist and politician Fausto Bertinotti, has since resigned.

“Veltroni and the left paid a high price for ignoring issues linked to immigration,” said Immigrant Party vice-president Marc Angelelli.

“After making political capital from allowing immigrants to vote in primaries [for the recently formed centre-left Democrat Party led by Walter Veltroni], it then dropped them,” he said.

The Democrat Party drew criticism from immigrants for failing to field a single candidate of foreign origin in the national election.

“As a result, we have fewer representatives of foreign origin in parliament than in the last legislature,” said Angelelli.

“But quality-wise we have improved. Souad Sbai represents much of civil society,” he concluded.

Ahead of the polls, Mansouri commented that the selection of 4 immigrant candidates to represent 4 million citizens was “an absolutely miserable figure.”