Full stadium, empty ballot boxes: an avoidable scenario

The game of democracy has its rules, which always apply, to guarantee everyone. Therefore Roberto Lagalla is fully the mayor of Palermo. Even though he didn’t get an absolute majority of the votes, even though six out of ten voters didn’t go to the polls, and many of them couldn’t reach them because the polling station doors were locked. After all, Rosario Crocetta was also elected governor, in 2012, with 30 percent of half of the electorate. Leoluca Orlando was also re-elected mayor, in 2017, with 46 per cent of the votes, by virtue of a bizarre law passed a few months earlier by the Ars with the unconfessed aim of curbing the “lone knights” and the 5 Stars who always won in the ballot .

What happened between early Saturday afternoon and late Sunday evening, however, cannot be considered normal. It is not normal for 210 seat presidents, enrolled for months or years on a list deposited at the Court of Appeal, desert without notice. It is not normal that almost twenty-four hours pass before the electoral office of the Municipality is able to find 210 citizens, in possession of the legal requirements, able to replace the absent. It is not normal that only at 2 pm, that is six hours after the official start of the vote, some polling stations begin to welcome the voters.

Why all this? Why only in Palermo? The calcium effect is the only possible explanation for the phenomenon. Thirty-five thousand people at the stadium, between 9 pm and 11 pm (voting time), and hundreds of thousands more in front of the TV for an epochal sporting challenge, were a widely predictable variable. Also for this reason a summit was held in the prefecture on May 31, assuming the postponement of the game. A summit concluded with the decision to confirm the date of the race, and therefore the coincidence of the two events, acquired the ok of the police. Was this enough? Was it inevitable, in fact, to compress the already short duration of voting by two hours and to accept at the start a higher than expected abstention on a hot Sunday in almost summer?

“If men were angels, there would be no need for a government,” James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers, more than two centuries ago. Since angels are a rare species in Palermo too, it was easy to imagine that the duel between civic sense and passion, on the day of the elections and the decisive match of the rosanero, would have had an uncertain outcome. Governing a community means taking into account its imperfections. And ensure that they do not affect the smooth running of your daily activities. Postponing, or anticipating, the game would have been an act of good governance. Good governance that seeks the concrete solution of problems and not the abstract affirmation of a principle.

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