After the April 2011 local elections in Italy, in which several grassroots initiatives presented a winning alternative candidate for the elections, the new government of Naples implemented a series of measures to take control of municipal services, most notably that of waste management in the midst the crisis, and set up several initiatives of common goods' management.
The municipalist government of Naples, Italy (2011-now) won the elections thanks the promises of solving the "waste emergency" which emerged under the management of the private waste disposal companies and, more in general, in a context of debt and citizen unease. The new citizen platform sought "to defend the interests of citizens against those of major powers and private corporations".
Before the local election of April 2011, some actors of the civil society (citizen committees, associations...) decided to present a non-traditional candidate to the election. The then MEP Luigi de Magistris was elected to run for the election. He had gained populatiry thanks to his investigation "Why Not?" on corrupt right-wing and left-wing Italian politicians. In his second term (2016-2021), he governs with the support of DemA, a platform for democracy and autonomy combining civil society initiatives and left-wing parties.
Before the April 2011 election, Naples suffered form a waste management crisis, with the city's streets extremely dirty. Images of Naples with mountains of garbage bags piling up in the streets were shared around the world. Strikes, corruption and lack of equipment created a critical situation of which only the organised crime groups were taking advantage.
After the election, the unexpected winning candidate Luigi de Magistris changes the strategy of the local government and adopts an approach based on self-organizational practices of the communities which co-govern the commons. This way, the city council started fostering and maintaining the dialogue with the civil society and finding innovative solutions for a better governance of the commons. Under this strategy, called "governance ad hoc", the local government relies on innovative forms of bottom-up management of the urban commons.
In this line, the emphasis on common goods of the City of Naples lead to the creation of the a special observatory (Osservatorio cittadino permanente sui Beni comuni della città di Napoli) and a Right to the City section (Assessorato al diritto alla città, alle politiche urbane, al paesaggio e ai beni comuni). This approach has served as inspiration for many local governments elsewhere in Italy. The local government provided a more detailed description in URBACT: when a vacant building is or starts being used informally by the local community for social, political or cultural purposes and is recognized by the local government as a "common good", a regulation for its "civic use" is elaborated by the local community itself through a participatory process and is adopted by the local government. The regulation defines the rights, duties and responsibilities for using the particular vacant building as common good (self-management structures, the involvement process, guarantees of public access and collective use, integration of sustainability principles in the management of the site....). Based on this regulation, the initiative is officially allowed to use the building complex.
With respect to the garbage crisis, the city council cut all relationships with private waste disposal companies and remunicipalised waste management. Moreover, municipality's rental properties company, which managed and maintained social housing had also its contract terminated to control it directly from the municipal government. These efforts aimed at reducing the influence of organised crime groups, and resulted in more affordable rents for citizens.
Finally, the government decided to implement the decision of the 2011 referendum on water management, in which Italians voted for water to be recognised as a fundamental human right and against the privatisation of its management. Therefore, the public company Acqua Bene Comune ("Water as a common good") was created to substitute the private management, and now features citizens' council managed by committees and ecologist associations. It resulted in lower-than-average water prices as well as a ban on water cuts for the impoverished.
- The Guardian
- European Public Service Union
- Eleonora de Majo, Naples city councillor
- Comune di Napoli