I am here today to talk about my political experience. I will refer in particular to the last two years. From December 2012 to April 2014 I had the opportunity to hold the position of Minister of Territory, Environment, Agriculture, Public Works, Sport,Telecommunications and Youth Policy in my country, the Republic of San Marino.
Two years ago, in July 2012, I had already bought the air tickets to come here in Bilbao for a meeting of the EDP, as delegate of People’s Alliance. Unfortunately, twenty days before the departure I was hospitalized for a delicate operation. I discovered that I have a very rare and aggressive cancer.
I started my fight against this enemy thinking that I had to give up everything, to shut myself away and stay with my beloved. On the contrary, in September 2012 I chose to participate in the elections and in December 2012 (after various treatments and feeling well at that time), I agreed to become minister, without hiding to anyone my pain and the difficulties I was experiencing, but rather trying to convey my natural optimism.
Then, in 2013,at Christmas, having my conditions worsened again, I decided to resign, so that I could undergo treatments with more tranquillity . Therefore, last April, after about 17 months as minister, I left my government position.
Today, I am again in a positive phase of my life. I know that my struggle will be long and difficult, but difficult challenges are always the most exciting.
I thank the organizers of this event who have allowed me, with a two-year delay, to be here and to appreciate this city. With my presence here, I hope to convey part of what I have lived and learned in these last two wonderful years .
We’re here because we all share a few aspects: the same passion, our political commitment, we are all young Europeans who are entering the world of politics.
We do this at a time of great social and economic instability. Therefore, more than past generations we have to put at the centre of our actions and, most of all, of our thoughts two core values: courage and vision of change.
Boys and girls of our age do not ask us to preserve what we have, to be anchored to past models, because in most cases these models have failed or are failing. The majority of our peers feel frustrated, do not see future prospects, haven’t got a job and lack opportunities to dream about a future. Being a politician today is a real challenge. But this, for us, is a great opportunity, because we nurture the ideal of doing something for the others. We have the great opportunity to be successful in a tough challenge, which is a rather different thing than winning easy challenges.
The first value, then, that I put at the core of my actions Minister, and that I want to share with you, was the confidence in young people above all. For key positions in the ministry, in terms of power and trust,I chose three young girls, all between 30 and 35.
I have tried to transmit to them, and to all members of my young staff, some clear messages: transparency in action, complete and total trust in the others and in themselves, the importance of collaboration and above all not to be afraid of making mistakes.
Just because we are young it is more likely that we make mistakes. Being involved in politics means to read and understand our society, interpret and understand basic needs and find remedial actions. This is a complex task: every day we change, we understand today what until recently was unknown, perhaps tomorrow we will understand that what we believe today does not correspond completely to reality!
Making mistakes for young people is a natural process, like breathing, falling in love, changing one’s mind!
I used to say to my colleagues, to whom I assigned a lot of responsibility: do not be afraid to make a mistake, as long as it is a new error and not a repetition of an old one!
I believe that this historical moment requires decisions and actions. Not to act, stand still, is the worst mistake one can make.
But this should not be confused with authoritarianism or being self-referential.
Another core value I used to stick to as minister was sharing. Responsibilities are clear, everybody has his own, but it is necessary, now more than ever, to understand that the complexity of the challenges requires many different points of view.
Only exchanging views in an open and honest way with others we can be sure that we are doing the right thing for the country.Exchanging views, being open to different ideas, listening to others are not signs of weakness for a politician but of strength.
We are accustomed to political leaders who do not delegate powers, who always have an answer, who know everything and want to convince us that their idea is good. Today, the real leadership is being able to convey to the people confidence in themselves, and this can only be done by transmitting the idea that the power that you have is only necessary to listen to everyone and then make the synthesis,not to impose your idea.
An authoritarian leadership today would certainly cause divisions, at a time when we have to remain united in the face of difficult challenges.
Sharing requires a humble attitude, what I showed with my staff, my colleagues and more experienced ministers, to whom I have often turned to for advice without any fear, with the entire opposition, with whom I have created a collaborative and clear relationship, while covering different positions.
I chose today not to dwell upon classic and conventional issues, as you probably expected.
I am not here to talk about communication strategy,relations with media, mediation among coalition partners, work organization , relations with one’s own party, with the electorate, because I think these are areas in which I have nothing special to teach and where I also showed some natural weaknesses. I only wanted to tell you how I wanted to live the enormous political responsibility that I was assigned, trying to convey the passion with which I lived my18 months in the government.
So, to sum up, today I want to say, regardless of whether you reach positions of power in the future: trust in yourself, in young people, do not be afraid to make mistakes, do not ever stop in front of the hard work of change, act, express your ideas and strive as much as possible to accept those of others.
Changing one’s ideas or beliefs is not being incoherent, it means being wise and curious about what is different from us, new compared to our mental schemes, it is the most beautiful way to live, even if it is the most exhausting.
To sum up, do have the courage and passion to take care of others and your country at this difficult time.
I hope you have found in these words something that you also feel and share.
Experiencing passion for politics, becoming a minister, for me, was a sort of treatment as it was to resign later on. Today, I can only tell you not to be afraid to change direction, to face difficult challenges, always be simply yourself. Your fellow citizens will love you, because in your dreams they will recognize their dreams, in your limits their limits, and it will be natural for them to choose you as their representatives.
Best wishes to all of you for your future!