• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Former Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt Toys With Running for Mayor of Florence


Jan 4, 2024


Schmidt is not a typical candidate of the right. In an interview with the Rome daily La Repubblica last month, Schmidt described himself as a moderate, a distinction that would appeal to centrist voters, insisting that he “was and remained antifascist” and “anti-Nazi.”

Brothers of Italy, the party Schmidt would run for, was born from the wreckage of Italy’s failed experiment with Fascism, but its current leader, the prime minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, has firmly distanced herself from the party’s Fascist roots. “He’s an anomalous candidate with respect to the coalition that would support him,” said Alessandro Chiaramonte, a professor of political science at the University of Florence, adding that its typical voters would be less likely to vote for “a polyglot man of culture,” like Schmidt. But, Chiaramonte added, “that might be what appeals to the undecided and centrist voters.”

During his eight years at the Uffizi, Schmidt skillfully built a public profile, frequently taking the limelight by weighing into public debates. When vandals defaced a part of the Uffizi museum overlooking the Arno River last summer, Schmidt quickly condemned the act, and called for tough retaliation. “Enough with token punishments and fancy extenuating circumstances! We need the hard fist of the law here,” he said a statement. He then hired armed guards to monitor the exterior areas of the museum off hours.

Schmidt also played to social media, posing with celebrities and influencers visiting the museum in front of famous works from the collection. The consensus is that he ran the Uffizi well, renovating many of its galleries and boosting the museum’s brand.

“The value added for the right is that he’s shown to have great managerial abilities,” said Simona Poli, who reports on Florentine politics for La Repubblica. She pointed out that in past months, Schmidt had openly attacked Florence’s center-left mayor, Dario Nardella, on a number of issues, including security. “It was almost like launching a message: ‘If I were in his place, I’d do better,’” Poli said.


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