Assessor of the Commons
= official position in the municipality of Naples
"This signal was apparently heard in Italian political culture. Luigi de Magistris, a former prosecutor and member of the European Parliament,was elected mayor of Naples in May 2011 on a law and order platform. He has now become a big-time champion of the commons. As Anthony Quattrone of the Naples Politics blog puts it, Naples is now a hothouse of “participatory democracy, bottom-up initiatives, and social innovation.”
De Magistris was an outsider to Neapolitan politics when he won the support of two minor parties for his quest for the mayoralty. With support from both the far left and conservatives, he improbably defeated the businessman supported Prime Minister Berlusconi. “Many citizens in Naples feel that the election of Luigi de Magistris is a last-ditch bid to save whatever is left of the glorious capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies,” Quattrone wrote. “Neapolitan disenchantment with politics and total distrust of politicians started with the unification of Italy and has basically persisted to this day.”
The commons as a path forward? De Magistris thinks so. He has appointed an “Assessor of Commons” to reclaim public management of the city’s water services. The Assessor is also charged with identifying new commons-based ways of providing services. The Mayor has national political ambitions, and talks frankly of the commons as a framework for managing the people’s wealth.
One sign of De Magistris' commitment to the commons is a conference that he hosted this past weekend, “A Forum on the Commons for the Common Good.” The event brought together municipal officials, a few mayors, political associations and movements, and citizens from across Italy. The goal: “to defend and promote the commons….understood as the heritage of all, the foundation of inalienable rights and participatory democracy.” (See story on the MicroMega website.) The discussions were divided into four thematic streams: the financial autonomy of local authorities; common goods and public services; participatory democracy, welfare, rights, immigration policies and the work environment; and new urban models." (http://bollier.org/mayor-naples-champions-commons)