taly’s opposition centre-left Democratic Party (PD) picked Elly Schlein, a 37-year-old U.S.-Italian national who grew up in Switzerland, to be its new leader and rebuild the group after its election rout last year.
Despite trailing in the polls, Schlein defeated veteran PD stalwart Stefano Bonaccini in a ballot of PD supporters on Sunday by around 54% to 46%, after promising to make her party more radical to challenge the ruling conservative coalition.
Schlein will lead opposition in parliament to Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, with two women for the first time in Italian history heading the country’s two main parties.
Schlein and Meloni have different stances on an array of issues.
Meloni portrays herself as the defender of traditional families and the Roman Catholic Church teachings on sex and abortion. Schlein is in a relationship with a woman and supports LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality.
Schlein worked on former U.S. President Barack Obama’s campaign team in 2008 and 2012 and has been compared in the Italian media to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic politician from New York, for her unexpected rise and activist zeal.