The Patrizia Baffi case, explained


On Tuesday afternoon, the Lombardy regional council elected the president of the commission of inquiry into the regional management of the coronavirus epidemic. The commission had been asked by the opposition, made up of the Democratic Party and the 5 Star Movement. According to the regional statute, the president of a commission of inquiry of this kind is indicated by the minority – since he should investigate the majority – but surprisingly Patrizia Baffi was elected, the only Lombard councilor of Matteo Renzi’s party, Italia Viva, with the votes of almost all the center-right majority made up of the League, Forza Italia and the Brothers of Italy.

The election of Baffi was highly criticized by both the PD and the M5S, and judged to be an institutional forcing and an attempt to weaken the new commission by the majority, which in fact chose who should investigate how the junta it expresses has managed the emergency. “They have chosen a president who suits him, period,” he explained to Posts Jacopo Scandella, councilor of the PD and one of the names circulated for the appointment as president of the commission.

The request to appoint a commission of inquiry on the management of the health emergency by the Region had come after weeks of extensive but timely criticism of some very controversial decisions by the regional government and in particular by the Welfare Councilor Giulio Gallera. The majority said they were willing to form a commission. A qualified majority of 40 votes is required to elect the president: the opposition has 30 votes, so any candidacy had to be submitted also to the majority parties.

– Also read: The two months that shocked Lombardy

Scandella said that in recent days the center-right had vetoed any candidate from the Democratic Party, while he had made it clear that Patrizia Baffi would be happy to vote.

Baffi is 52 years old and lives in Codogno, the town in the province of Lodi where the first coronavirus outbreak was identified in Italy. After a career as an accountant, she entered politics ten years ago on the Codogno town council. In 2018 she had been elected regional councilor with the Democratic Party, which she left to enter Italy Viva last year.

In the past few weeks Baffi had been one of the most benevolent opposition advisers to the management of the regional government. At the end of February he published an old photo on Instagram taken together with the regional president Attilio Fontana with the caption «President, we trust you. Help us get out of here. ” In mid-April he said in a press release that a possible commission of inquiry “could highlight critical issues on the distribution of competences between the Lombardy Region and the central State, from which some deficiencies may also emerge in the latter’s action”, and quoted the “transparency and professionalism” of the people involved in the Region. Days later he had not participated in the motion of no confidence in Gallera presented by the oppositions.

Yesterday, without any particular notice, she presented her candidacy as chairman of the commission with a speech of a quarter of an hour, at the end of which she was voted only by the center-right and herself.

Several observers and journalists linked his election to the abstention of Italia Viva from the vote on the authorization to proceed against the secretary of the league Matteo Salvini, held yesterday in the Senate. Scandella does not believe there has been a “Roman agreement” between Renzi and Salvini, but a more limited compromise concerning Lombardy. Italia Viva has obtained a relevant and visible position, while the center-right is an apparently “softer” president than those proposed by the opposition.

Scandella believes however that Baffi will not be able to do much, not having a consolidated board group behind him and owing entirely his election to the people he should investigate. “A president elected with 45 votes of the majority and 1 of the minority is not independent and has no margin of action”, explains Scandella, adding that in addition to having relevant powers it could hinder the parallel work of the press and the opposition, given that the the chairman of the commission has the power to secret the documents he deems most sensitive.

Baffi defended himself from the accusations in an interview given to Corriere della Sera in which he claims that his appointment was not decided by “political tricks”: “Simply my person was considered an element of guarantee, a moderate figure who never used too partisan tones”. Baffi also said that Matteo Renzi called her to suggest “think about it”, whether to accept the assignment or not. The president of Italia Viva, Ettore Rosato, was more direct and in a tweet published yesterday he publicly asked Baffi to resign.

At the moment Baffi has no intention of doing so, according to what was told at Corriere della Sera. When asked if he should choose between the party and the position of chairman in the future, Baffi replied: “The institutional role always comes first. I have nothing to do with this world here. Why should I bow to these palace games? ».

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