"I am proposing an Aosta Valley's unity candidate for the European Election"

Guido Corniolo

INTERVIEW. Aosta Valley Autonomous Union of Workers Secretary-General Guido Corniolo wants parties to reach deal so that Aosta has its own voice in the EU · "We are a different people, an irreplaceable piece of the European mosaic" · Union leader warns

-The way the Aostan parties will run for May's European election is still under discussion. From your wide experience, what do you think about that?

-I am proposing an Aosta Valley's unity candidate. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the Aosta Valley people can have a MEP of its own. The Aosta Valley (less than 150.000 people) is included into the 10 million-strong people North-West constinency for the European election. Because of that, it is not easy that Aosta Valley candidates can place themselves on top places in election lists. However, this is only one of many reasons why I have proposed a single candidacy. The main point to me is the fact that this election is unique, since we should ensure an Aosta Valley representation in the European Parliament that reflects what we the Aostans are beyond political parties: a different people, an irreplaceable piece of the mosaic of peoples that make up the human map of the European Union. We are that, even if we are small. Within the immense European Parliament, we should have one single voice that accurately expresses our collective identity. It is starting from this approach that Aosta Valley parties should negotiate with larger Italian parties, proposing them to accept our unity candidate, of course with chances of success. If we go together in Aosta it will be easier to find fellow partners.

-But at present no deal for a single candidate has been reached.

-That is true. Coming so close to the May 25th date, the Aosta Valley parties are still spending their time arguing among them. The single candidate proposal is discussed, but currently there is nothing concrete. Surely we are too influenced by the usual political game, in which all parties uphold their own programs and candidates. This lack of vision in projecting ourselves as a people in Europe depends a lot on the loss of our historical memory. To a large extent we have forgotten that Aosta Valley today enjoys autonomy because we were lucky to have such a resistance to fascism. Resistants were able to fight together to assert and maintain our collective personality, which had been completely denied by the dictatorial regime of the time.

-What did autonomy mean for the Aosta Valley?

-Autonomy came later, with democracy, and it was not a gift, but an expression of recognition by the Italian state that we are a distinct people. A recognition that we had to defend everyday through a powerful citizen surveillance, because forces in favour of re-centralization never stop to work in order to exand themselves through the laws, media, schools, and also through the citizen's minds. For a number of reasons, the Aosta Valley autonomy is today hit: both because of institutional reforms that the Italian government carries out and because of the breakup of Aosta's political parties.

-Should we talk about a new resistance?

-To some extent, we should. My father, who was a famous resistant, always told me that it was necessary to carry out the resistance culminating in the exercise of the right to self-determination. This was already the message of the antifascist resistance leader Émile Chanoux. Luckily I am not alone in believing this now. There are many of us who try to realize this ideal. Specifically, I take this view in my job as director of the Aosta Valley Autonomous Union of Workers (SAVT, French acronym). And I have also been doing in other volunteer activities, for more than 40 years, that is since my youth. I have been dedicated to the promotion of a number of cultural initiatives, ranging from music for young people to exhibitions of great European artists or the revitalization of European organizations of stateless nations that defend the rights of peoples. For example, and from its establishment in Italy, I am an active member of CIEMEN and its representative in the Aosta Valley. I have promoted the participation of political parties, trade unions and cultural organizations in the Conference of European Stateless Nations (CONSEU).

-What are the concrete actions that turn SAVT activities in "resistance" ones?

A first one is the very fact that we exist as a union that exclusively belongs to Aosta Valley workers. SAVT thus has its own your identity and, therefore, it is not a section of another larger, Italian union. This allows SAVT to collaborate in network unions of stateless nations and together with them, to establish goals and ways of acting within the European scenario. This also allows SAVT to make a diagnosis on the socioeconomic situation of Aosta Valley, prepare proposals and act accordingly. I believe that SATV's position is well explained in the report I introduced in our recent 16th Congress.

[Editor's note: the report can be found as an attachment at the end of this interview, or by clicking here.]

The Aosta Valley people has always struggled to conquer and preserve its political and administrative freedom, if necessary facing adverse situations. This freedom must now be defended against obstacles placed by the Italian government and certain European policies.

-SAVT has a long history in this respect.

-Since 1952, the year SAVT was established, our union has worked for the reform and radical transformation of political and economic structures, with the goal of completing an integral federalism. Such a federalism does not mean recognizing ourselves in the centralized nation-state nor in the current geopolitical structure of Europe, in which we are not officially represented as different people. It rather means to express an exact political will: to draw a path in order to achieve our self-determination. If we believe that we must exercise the right to self-determination, we consider too that any concession -even today's autonomy- is only a temporary agreement with the power of the nation-state.

-What is SAVT's more immediate future?

-Over the next four years, our main work will consist in better defining the path we want to run in this direction. We need to become the masters of our autonomy and our financial , economic, human and material resources. Everything should help to create a whole new model of development for our country that revolves around social and personal cohesion, in order to create a fairer and more balanced society in the Aosta Valley. We know that this ideal is not easy to achieve, especially now that we are going through an extraordinary economic crisis and are suffering an increasing loss of jobs. In my report, I detail how we should act to overcome the crises that are impoverishing us, not only in the material sense.

We further enhance SAVT as a class union, a independent union, a union that fights to assert a new system of rules against financial capitalism and globalization that threatens social cohesion. We are part of the forces who support actions leading to flesh out the assertion of the right to self-determination. At the same time, it is our duty to show our solidarity with all those who share the same battle, especially with other stateless nations' unions.