Venice’s new mayor – influential Venetian Giorgio Orsoni

Despite aggressive campaigning by the right-wing candidate Renato Brunetta who was backed by the Prime Minister and held an influencial ministerial post in Rome, on March 28th 2010 Venetian electorate chose the pragmatic lawyer Giorgio Orsoni, 63, to succeed the outgoing philosopher mayor, Massimo Cacciari. Sticking to their traditional left-wing views, Venetian voters rejected the hyper-active Renato Brunetta, who declared his goal to make Venice once again “a World City”, a “Capital of Trade”, a “Capital of Culture”, and a “Capital of Tourism”. But with 20 million tourists per year and population of just 60,000, Venetians feel that more tourists is not an answer to the trouble they are in. Although Brunetta was born and raised in Venice by a poor Venetian peddler, many locals felt he did not have a good grasp of the many economic, environmental and social problems that plague the city. It didn’t help that the minister decided to hold on to his post in Rome and be a part-time mayor to the city that so desperately needs attention.

Unlike his opponent, Giorgio Orsoni is an integral part of Venice. From his residence on the Grand Canal he sees and feels this unique city. He is a very influencial local figure who holds such important posts as Primo Procuratore of the basilica of St Mark’s, a vice-president of the Fondazione Cini, a trustee of the Fenice theatre and thepresident of the Compagnia della Vela, the famous sailing club in Venice. In the interview to Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera” he said, “This city cannot be understood if you don’t know its history and you don’t look at it from the water.”

Drawing on the strength of Venice’s geographic location and its importance as a long-established European cultural hub, Orsoni will strive to “reinforce the role of Venice as the metropolis of the north-east: a city of the future with man as its measure, which encourages work and enterprise, helps families and improves the environment. [We need] a town plan to demolish ugly structures on the mainland and then rebuild. Finally, [we want] to have high quality tourism.” To further set himself apart from his hyper-active opponent with many goals and no clear strategy, he said, “Venice is a world city, a beacon of civilisation that needs calm leadership.” Let’s hope that Orsoni will help Venice survive as a living breathing city and will find a way to keep the tourists coming without ruining the natural rhythm and authenticity of Venice.

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