Signor Varrese goes on election trip | TIME ONLINE


It could be a cozy weekend for Vincenzo Varrese: a few
      Cigarettes on the balcony, a mushroom risotto for dinner. Instead, he and his own
      A 40-hour car journey before friends: 20 hours, 20 hours back.
      Dietikon-Calabria back.

From 23 to 26 May 2019, the European Union elects its new Parliament. Also 1.7 million EU citizens living in the Switzerland live, are eligible to vote. Most of them can vote by mail. But not the Greeks, Slovaks and Italians: they have to travel to their hometown and personally put the ballot in the urn.

"That's just it
Italia "
says Vincenzo Varrese. When he laughs, you can see the wide gap between his incisors. Why is he taking the strain of this long election drive? Varrese ruffles his gray hair with both hands: "I have to do that," he says in broken Swiss German, pausing, looking for the right words: "We Europeans should stick together again.
Together, not against each other. "

Varrese is president of the cultural association Realtà Nuova in Dietikon. The clubhouse is located in the attic of a cleaning institute. Two older men drink coffee, a couple of thirty-something talk about an Italian deputy, dartboards hang on the walls, and trophies line the beams. Varrese soon no longer knows where to go with the golden cups: The club members win one tournament after another. They burn for darts – and for politics.

That's why Varrese once again organized a car to "drive down" for the elections. Down, this is San Pietro a Maida, a hamlet sticking to the top of the Italian boot.
"Guarda qui",
says Varresse pointing to a framed photo collage: white houses, an old chapel, olive groves, windmills. San Pietro a Maida has 4,200 inhabitants, but a quarter of them do not live in the sunny south, but in Switzerland, more precisely in and around the Zurich town of Dietikon.

47 seats in the car are already sold, three to have, for one hundred euros per person. Also Varrees nephew and niece go with, own children he has none. His passengers are listed in an Excel spreadsheet clean, the youngest 18, the oldest 72 years old, he knows every single one. "Most choose the Italian SP, the Partito Democratico." One of the men looks at Varrese from the side and slowly shakes his bald-shaven head. Varrese knocks on his broad back: "I'll change Francesco's mind while I'm driving."

1.7 millions

European voters

live in Switzerland

The difficult life circumstances and hard work have politicized Varrese and turned them into a leftist. At 18, he had to emigrate because there were no jobs in Calabria. He has been working for Swiss companies for almost forty years, today as a machine operator in a steel sawmill in Schlieren. He longs for his homeland, would like to retire at 63 and move back to his village.

As a young man, Varrese chose the Communists "because they champion people like me who work hard and earn little." Moreover, the CP was the answer to right-wing extremism in Italy, In the clubhouse still hang today a few pennants with a hammer and sickle and a black and white photograph of the anti-fascist Antonio Gramsci. Later, the Partito Comunista d'Italia went to the Partito Democratico. Now Varreses voice goes to him.