Fucsia Nissoli (Member of the Italian Parliament elected in the US)

Un'italoamericana nel Parlamento italiano

Jul 13, 2013 5887 ITA ENG

Italians living in the US have voted, as we living in Italy did, for the elections of 2013. Many candidates, all motivated by their great love for Italy, were divided into political parties at times identical to and at times different from those in Italy. Those people voted in a large constituency, including US, Canada, and Mexico. Ron Turano, Chicago, has won in the Senate and two women have been elected to the Houses. The member of Parliament Fucsia Nissoli Fitzgerald received the most votes in most part of the US.

We thank her a lot for taking the time - between her job and her travels – to tell us and our readers about her story.

Honorable Nissoli, you were born in Italy and then emigrated to the US. You have lived exactly half of your life in Italy and half in the US. Tell us a bit about your story, about what it was like arriving in the US.

Yes, I was born Italy, in the province of Bergamo. My dad was from Lombardy and my mom from Sicily. I arrived in the US in 1989, when I met my American husband, from Chicago. I’ve lived here in the US for 25 years, I am married and I have three wonderful children: Melanie 22, Pauline 17, and Thomas 23. Despite living in the US for several years, I have made 12 moves, so I know very well the American diversities and I can tell you that I love this country, which makes me feel integrated on many levels. However, I keep my Italian roots and the love for our beautiful country deep in my heart. I did voluntary and social work for many years, and I like to help people in need. Such activities allowed me to come in close contact with many realities and to have the chance to meet many people, know their stories, and hold a strong relationship with the Italian community. Moreover, I have always given my small contribution to the spread of Italian language and culture. Accordingly, I have always taught my children the love and the proud for the Italian country, allowing them to know all Italian traditions and festivities.

You are among the three members of the Italian Parliament elected in the constituency including the US. Inter alia, in the US, for the first time two women are elected members of the Italian Parliament (you and also the Honorable La Marca). How many Italians are eligible to vote in your constituency, and how many of them did vote you?

In my department, 328,788 parcels were sent from the consulates. Among them, 29,87% of the envelops were returned. I had 6,340 votes.

How is it like to work as a Member of Parliament? Did you expect something different or not?

This experience is extraordinary and it brings emotions and intelligence into a challenge for the common good, beyond partisan interests, looking at the future of Italy, which goes beyond national boundaries.

I had - and I am having now - the chance to talk with people’s hearts, to understand their needs. I realized that the attitude of some politicians does not mirror Italian civic spirit and culture. I am meeting lot of new people in the Parliament, which is a lively reality of courageous and passionate people, willing to work for the good of the Italian country and to make it a leading country that faces present and future challenges. I feel a really positive change and I am very optimistic. I believe that the future of the new generations will increasingly improve.

Some argue that the foreign constituency should be eliminated and that other ways of political engagement should be found for Italians abroad, replacing the participation in the elections. What is your position about it?

The foreign constituency should not be eliminated, but rather reformed. In this regards, last week I organized a seminar on reforming abroad voting. Voting by correspondence has shown its being a fragile system and it should be replaced by the use of information technology. This is the best moment to use this kind of system within the Italian community abroad, and this will be the future of voting both for the abroad constituency and for Italy.

Abroad voting should be revised and reformed, but to abolish it would mean to disown millions of Italians; those Italians who emigrated to find a better future for their families. They do not deserve it. So my goal is to work within the party for which I was elected in order for Italians abroad to continue to have a political voice and keep their achievements alive.

You live between Rome and Connecticut, where you have your American residence. You live just in Newtown, where in 2012 the horrendous massacre at Sandy Hook School happened. Isn’t it difficult to carry on such an activity that requires your presence on the two different sides of the Atlantic?

Yes, I live in Newtown, which last December saw this tremendous tragedy happening at Sandy Hook School. I cannot believe that those little angels of my community flew too soon to heaven. Newtown is a beautiful town: lots of nature, horses, and honest people. We can only keep praying for these little angels.

It is not easy to do a job that requires me to be present in two different sides of the ocean, but I wouldn’t say it is impossible. Through organization and good will, everything is possible! I am aware of the fact that I am, somehow, giving up much, like being home in time for dinner or be present at my children’s recital. However, at the end of the day, I felt the need to candidate in order to give voice to all those people and help renew Italy. I really didn't think I would ever win! But here I am. The time to give back has come, for I got so much from life. I am trying my best not to disappoint those Italians who trusted and voted me.

To conclude, what are your thoughts on the political difference between Italy and the US? What should we learn from them?

Well, first of all, there are two parties in the US: the Government’s party and the Opposition’s. All deputies and senators are elected by the direct vote of the people. Our electoral law, different from that in the foreign constituency where there are the preferences, surprises American politicians. Not to mention the electoral reimbursements that should be totally abolished, as they are payable by Italian citizens yet governed by the parties. Obviously, all this led to a deep crisis that demanded many sacrifices from Italians. People have lost their confidence in politics: they are tired and angry. As politicians, we must be the first ones to set a good example by abolishing our very privileges.

From Americans, we should learn the great respect for the institutions and the great pride for their homeland. We should teach this civic sense just from primary school. In every American school, each morning, children raise their hands to their chests, standing and proclaiming the pledge of allegiance to the American flag. We should learn to pay all taxes, as it is our duty, it will improve public services, and it will decrease taxes as well: if all pay, all will pay less. We must work in order for taxes not to be perceived as an enemy but as a tool to contribute to the common good, according to a gradual system which seeks to protect the weakest.






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