The FDP has failed, it needs courage to wipe the slate clean

INTERVIEW

The former mayor of Chiasso Moreno Colombo on the future of the party – Is he a candidate to succeed Bixio Caprara?

The FDP has failed, it needs courage to wipe the slate clean
Fiorenzi Maffix CdT Archive

The FDP has failed, it needs courage to wipe the slate clean

Fiorenzi Maffix CdT Archive

Since he left the mayor's office in Chiasso, Moreno Colombo has cut back on politics. But his FDP party (Liberals) didn't forget him and he was ready to run for the government in 2019. But there's never been any feeling between him and the current leadership. Is he a candidate to succeed Bixio Caprara?

Moreno Colombo, former mayor of Chiasso, you've been off the scene for a few years now, has anyone shown up in the meantime to make you change political sides?
"Yes, I've had offers from different sides (left to right) but I've always declined. I don't consider myself an opportunist, but I am very disappointed with the FDP.

Do you still recognise the values that the FDP embodies?
"Of course. I think that radical liberal values have been and still are valid and achievable, the real problem is the lack of courage and clarity in the party leadership".

Bixio Caprara's presidency has come to an end. What's needed now for what you still consider to be your party?
"I'll underline, courage and clarity, but above all ideas for the future of our people and our canton. Freshness, authenticity and greater modesty will bring many people closer to the FDP".

A summary of the last four years?
"It's better to look ahead, the summary doesn't look too good. Four years have been lost and, as far as the party is concerned, too many seats in each poll. Mendrisiotto has also lost representatives in the institutions."

On the other hand, under Rocco Cattaneo's presidency, how were things in the FDP?
"He had at least the vision of an entrepreneur and a sportsman. Several times I reminded him of his father Egidio's courage. His major flaw was knowing little about the institutions, but we discussed this at length.

Rumour has it that you were ready to run for the 2019 cantonal government, but found yourself with the door slammed in your face after a "farce" interview when the list was made. True or false?
"Yes it's true, I had been proposed by the Chiasso section and went to the now famous "farce interview" on a public holiday, then waited a few months and - the election list was presented to the media - I was sent a letter pre-printed with sentences and the standard thanks. I rest my case."

Do you hold a grudge?
"No, I'm disappointed, which is even worse, but I'm lucky I've always said what I think, and the results are there to see."

Looking ahead: what's missing in the FDP today?
"Lacking freshness and ideas. We are fortunate to have in Christian Vitta an excellent State Councillor, who was able to demonstrate his value in the management of the recent crisis due to the pandemic: let's start from here, but there's a lot of work to be done".

Are you thinking about the presidency ahead of the convention on 3 October?
"I've been getting a lot of phone calls and messages to that effect, until recently I hadn't considered it."

What does your willingness to do so depend on? Do you intend to wipe the slate clean and rebuild without finding yourself with an unwelcome legacy of profiles and constraints?
"A clean sweep of the current leadership is the least thing to do, those who sit in the directive today must recognise that they have never opposed the party's many losing choices, so the blame does not lie with the President. On this aspect I don't know the attendance at the members' meetings, but I have seen, like everyone else, the results.

Can you elaborate?
"Rebuilding now is complex, but it must be done carefully and above all with brave choices. Winning people are important, you have to have charisma and empathy, for example for our District you have to listen to people such as Simone Castelletti and Alain Bianchi, and so also for the other seven districts. Also, you have to involve people close to the economy, tradesmen, the catering sector in general, but also education (Lazzarotto and Rigozzi for example). A team with many positive and innovative ideas (young and old, men and women but positive and forward-looking)".

What is there to save in today's FDP?
"The structure, but it will have to be updated to new communication technologies".

Who should tomorrow's FDP talk to?
"It'll have to talk to the many families in Ticino who have children who, despite having a good education, can't find work. To those who find it difficult to reach the end of the month living here in Ticino. Above all, however, the FDP on every point, every question, will have to take a clear position, and this will lead it to strengthen itself and, in turn, convince the Liberals to return to believing in their own party. Here are some examples: on tax changes, clear positions on corporate profits, the same for families and single people. In addition, the first home, the result of many sacrifices, should no longer be taxed and taken into account in the calculations of the supplementary AHV (medical insurance). It will also need to stand clear and firm in proposals for day-to-day mobility, support for apprenticeships, accessibility to public and private buildings for public purposes. But we should also be more active in supporting tourism, sport and leisure. Without forgetting to network and support culture. And then we have to give incentives for building renovation and to those who decide to improve buildings rather than helping those who use and exploit the few remaining green spaces".

Was the embrace between FDP and PPD (Democrats) a starting point for a new centre or something to forget by turning the page immediately?
"It is the classic example showing in a tangible and unequivocal way that without shared projects and ideas, we are going nowhere. For the National Council the union was only technical - to obtain a result - but the two parties lost support. For the State Council, this is a disaster for both sides. And many members of the two parties have made a very clear choice of course. If we want to go in this direction the only valid choice is to adopt the majority system in Ticino".

You are a momò (resident of Mendrisio), a district which has seen the Ticino League grow and which has long claimed greater attention from the leadership of the FDP. Do you embody this spirit?
"The rise in support for the Ticino League? Blame the immobility and lack of ideas and courage. For example, after the beating at the federal elections, someone in the leadership said that we need to go back and talk to the public, so I think, how is it possible that this hasn't been done so far? It means that decisions were made without listening to anyone or just a few".

A fellow countryman, Matteo Quadranti, asked for the resignation of Caprara, even before the full extent of the federal defeat, on behalf of an unspecified group of radicals. Did you have anything to do with it?
"Perhaps the timing was questionable, but not the substance. The public's anger was related to the hasty agreement, without any basis, on important cantonal projects. From there, I only heard radical liberals saying that they wanted to vote for candidates from other lists or abstain from voting, which is even worse. A real disaster".

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