Irene Pivetti
Irene Pivetti

Political Development

Party Affiliation

Profession/ Current priorities

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments




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[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Jan 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Irene Pivetti

Political Development

What made you decide to go into politics?
It was on occasion of particular circumstances, in 1992, when I thought for Italy the time for a democratic revolution had arrived. It appeared as the eve of a great change. Afterwards I understood it was a deception. No reform occurred. Politics was meant to be closer to ordinary people, but this did not happen. I understood the Lega Nord (Northern political party fighting for the transformation of Italy into a confederation of three states) was the deception of the old system. I bought it, just like millions of Italians. Bossi ( Head of the Lega Nord) had said, "You take care of the Catholics". I thought the time of the Apocalypse had come. Once caught up in the workings, I ended up after two years as member of the Lower House after two others as President of the Lower House. I never chose these offices.

Do/Did you have a role model?
Certainly not in politics.

Does political involvement or policy making have a tradition in your family?
We have always talked of politics in our family. My grandfather was an anti-fascist, but nobody had ever approached active politics.

Have you been engaged in political grassroots activities before your involvement in party politics - e.g. in a citizens' rights, parents or other initiative?
I engaged, as a student, in Catholic associations. Particularly in the Catholic schools I attended. Later I engaged in some other things concerning social issues in general. I was a journalist for the radio of Milan's diocese. Afterwards, somehow by chance, I started working with the Lega Nord, I thought it would not last…

Where there disruptions in your political career path and why?
Not disruptions, but much change, yes. During the first two years, in 90-92, I was a political activist and deeply involved in the party organisation. In 1992, I was elected to the Parliament, within the Lega. In '94, also to my surprise, I was elected President of the Lower House. It was an institutional office. For two years politics was my life, my affections, everything. I gave myself 100% to my role. In '96, I was re-elected to the Parliament always within the Lega. However, it was a difficult situation for me and I decided to quit right after the elections.
Except for the initial phase, mine was a search for spaces within the centre of politics, among the moderates reflecting the majority of Italians. I only changed some acronyms, not my political ideas.

Where there disruptions in your biography that have/had an impact on your political career?
I got married in '97. That was maybe the first intelligent thing I did in my life!
My marriage hit the headlines. I was pregnant right away. I was much criticized…. It seemed I had married situations, issues, and now it turns out I had married a man! Moreover, I believe in the family! I am an extreme person. I exceeded before with the institutions, I now maybe exceed with feelings. It was important for me that people understood I fell in love and that my life changed. However, my engagement in politics did not change. My husband and I have been working hard for politics. Family and politics must be able to go together, but the world of politics despises you.
In addition, I married a younger man and this is not easily accepted. Additionally, I keep on getting pregnant and …

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Party Affiliation

What was your motivation to join a political party?
The need to find a political space in the centre within a party. The Italian political situation needs a total reconstruction …

To which party do you belong? Since when?
Udeur since March 1999.

Does your party have an equal opportunities regulation?
Not yet. However, a women's committee exists to take care of these issues.

Which function/offices did you hold in your party at the beginning? How long after your joining the party, was that? How did you get into running for an office?
I was President of the party ever since my joining. I did not utilise any strategies. I do have a political and institutional past, and I made an agreement with Mastella: he is the Party's Secretary; I am the President.

Did you have mentors within your party?
There are people I owe great gratitude to for my office of President of the Lower House. Profound people with great human qualities.

Did you ever change party affiliation?
After quitting the Lega Nord, I had different experiences during this period of office. I tried first to rebuild that ideal within my party. Then I joined forces with Dini (Rinnovamento Italiano) - I had 120 quarters all over Italy. The following year I made an agreement with Mastella and became President of Udeur.

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Profession/ Current priorities

How does your profession correspond with your political work?
It doesn't, they are two different fields. Starting my political career totally disrupted my former profession of linguist. Concerning being a journalist, there exists some kind of contiguity.

What is your educational background? In what kind of jobs did you work?
After my university degree, I worked for two years as editorial consultant for the drawing up of a dictionary. I was a linguist, which is my profession ... journalist and linguist.

In which areas do you see your special competencies?
I was always concerned with social issues.

Which are your political priorities and main fields of action?
I am now working on the impact new technologies have on society with regard to privacy. The protection of privacy is, in my opinion, the new name for liberty. This is my main action goal, the one I prefer.

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Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

Which objectives would you like to achieve through your political work?
I would like to realise concrete things. Minimal objectives. I decided to go into politics to reform Italy; I was president of the Lower House with the aim of reforming our institutions. I now think in a minimal way: let us at least do one good thing so that people don't despise us. Concrete objectives regain dignity for politics….

How and why did your objectives change during your political career?
They did change, but they still fall within an underlying theme: the need to create a political space "of centre". In the past, I thought great things could be done; I now only think small ones can be achieved.

Do equal opportunity strategies - in your opinion - have an impact in your country to promote women in decision-making?
We have a very advanced legislation in Italy. However, if we did not progress in terms of presence of women in decision-making, it is because of mentality. Laws alone do not trigger changes, examples do. Involving more women helps to have even more. It is a driving force. Each woman nominated head of some body calls at least 10 others to work with her, 100 more the next time.

Did you benefit from these strategies? How do you judge them?
When in '94 the Polo (centre-right wing coalition) won, a symbol of renewal was looked for. What could work better than a young woman? I was the direct result of a distorted logic of Equal Opportunities.

Do you see direct or indirect discrimination in "conventional" policy making?What is it that keeps women from committing themselves to politics?
I perceive both direct and indirect discriminations. Nowadays, both male and female voters still tend to identify authoritativeness with the male. A woman doesn't necessarily vote for a woman, because the mainspring of female solidarity is substantially less strong than the psychological background indicating greater guarantees in a man. I also detect two other kinds of indirect discriminations. There is an atmosphere of sexual winking which is gratifying for women. Finally, family life is denied. This is particularly serious for women.

What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome in their endeavour to participate in political decision-making?
A woman must talk little of her family; she doesn't have to show it off. It was surprising some of us gave birth: me, Mussolini, Melandri… Maternity is an obstacle to the political career.

Which are the obstacles you had to fight in your own political career?
The widespread presence of the two issues mentioned before. Ever since I was single, I was more accepted. However, the fact of being Catholic was an obstacle. When I was elected, I entrusted my work to God. This produced criticism, whereas the right of expression should be guaranteed to all! The Catholic that publicly states what he/she believes, irritates others. In addition, there is the difficulty of advances. I would never smile so nobody would wink. I always chose my collaborators among women to avoid problems!

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