This Sunday and Monday, more than a million people are called to vote to elect the new mayor of Milan. Will this mean five more years of Beppe Sala?
It’s election time. Polls in Milan open Sunday morning and close Monday evening. The winner of the elections will govern the city for five years, until 2026. Milan’s current mayor, Beppe Sala, is presenting his candidacy for the second time. Numbers seem to confirm the likeliness of him being elected once again, since surveys show a percentage of preference of around 50%. He may be the first mayor in the last decade to reach the absolute majority in the first electoral round. As he did five years ago, he is running with the center-left coalition of the Democratic Party, that seems to be the most popular in the city, in countertendency with the rest of country.
But where does Sala’s popularity come from?
With his degree in management from Bocconi university, he has gained people’s trust presenting himself as a concrete, practical person. He began to be known to the public in 2010, when the then mayor, Letizia Moratti, chose him to guide the 2015 Milan Universal exposition. It was a success, which brought Sala to win the subsequent elections. Five years later another great event has put him on the springboard to be elected again: 2026 winter Olympic games will be held in Milan and Cortina, following Sala’s council proposal.
His government has focused on increasing city sustainability. In the last weeks, the results of Sala’s green policies have been object of debate. The effectiveness of Area B – the widest limited traffic zone of Europe – will probably be seen in the next years. According to some residents, the impact of the increase of cycle lanes, even though surely useful to reduce carbon emissions, is causing some viability problems. This goes along with a 33% increase of subway ticket price that has led many to abandon public transportation in favor of cars.
Sala has also made inclusivity one of his campaign’s strong points. He is strongly favorable to the approval of Alessandro Zan’s draft law. The bill, if approved, would introduce the crime of homotransphobia in the Italian legal system, an issue that has been dividing Italian politics and people in the last months. It’s not a coincidence if the image of him sitting on an armchair with colorful rainbow socks is by far the one that got more likes in his (very active) Instagram profile.
Sala’s main opposer is Luca Bernardo, a pediatrician in Fatebenefratelli hospital, who is supported by a coalition of center-right parties.
Bernardo’s program is centered on the goals traditionally presented by the right wing: more security and less taxes. He promises to hire around 600 police officers to fight the city’s criminality and to lower the state’s pressure on families and businesses drowning in post-pandemic difficulties. He does not have environmental issues at the top of his agenda, as he would reduce the strictness of the central limited traffic zone and eliminate Area B.
He also claims 2015 Expo and the Olympic games to be a result of previous right-winged governments, and not thanks to Sala.
His campaign has been focused on Milan’s outskirts exigencies, where he will likely receive the widest portion of his votes. But polls don’t look very encouraging for him: he is expected to receive votes in a range going from 34% to 38%, leaving very little room for imagining him as the winner.
Following with less than 10% of the votes is Layla Pavone, candidate for the 5-Star Movement.
Milan has proven in the last decade that it is well projected for the future. The goal now is to become a more international city, inserted in the European panorama of the most influent areas of the continent. Even with the crisis of the pandemic, forecasts for the next years reassure Milanese people that they can be quite optimistic, with many opportunities rising on the horizon. The first key decision for Milan’s future is now. Time for campaigning is over: It’s the turn for people to speak up and vote.