Chaos in the municipal elections in Palermo, Italy. Long queues at polling stations due to the failure of about ninety presidents in the last minute.
About 40 polling stations in Palermo were closed this morning due to staff shortages. It was already clear on Saturday afternoon that the president was missing from ninety out of six hundred polling stations. After an evening and a night of phone calls, the municipality found nearly fifty people willing to perform their democratic mission. Many of the reserve chiefs were not in the mood as they planned a day at the beach or were hoping to promote Palermo Football Club to the second division tonight.
Several candidates have demanded that the Interior Ministry open polling stations tomorrow as well, which is not legally possible according to the ministry, but Rome ensures that everyone who arrives before closing time should be able to vote.
The League’s leader, Matteo Salvini, described the chaos in Palermo as “the theft of democracy”, and the city council of the Sicilian capital has since filed a complaint against a total of 174 presidents who have been abandoned.
Today, a new municipal council and a new mayor are elected in nearly a thousand municipalities across Italy, Genoa in the north and the cities of Messina and Palermo in Sicily are the largest municipalities where voting takes place today.
Palermo was turbulent earlier this week as two candidates for a city council seat were arrested on suspicion of mafia ties. Pietro Polizzi, candidate for Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, was handcuffed with two of his aides on Wednesday, and on Friday it was Francesco Lombardo of the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party. Both allegedly made promises to mafia bosses in exchange for a vote.
Party leader Berlusconi responded fiercely to the arrests. “This is a politically motivated work of judges,” the former prime minister said as he left the polling station this morning.
Because with the exception of the city council in a part of Italy, votes are made in five referendums on complex judicial issues across the country. So far, less than ten percent of Italians have voted for the referendums, so a quorum is unlikely.
In Palermo, problems at polling stations have largely been resolved, according to the Interior Ministry. The long queues at the polling stations have since disappeared and the situation has somewhat returned to normal. Currently, 38 polling stations are closed.
On Sunday afternoon, only about 17 percent of those eligible to vote.
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