Peaceful Assembly

A group of four young people in Italy launched the ‘6000 Sardines’ initiative which called on citizens to mobilise against the populist messages and rhetoric of right-wing leader Matteo Salvini (League Party) and his boastful claim that his Lega supporters would fill Italy’s squares.

On 14th November 2019 the first peaceful flash mob - without any political party flag or affiliation - took place in Bologna in reaction to the launch of the campaign of League Party candidate Lucia Bergonzoni, who is running for presidency of the Emilia Romagna region.

Despite the region being regarded as a left-wing stronghold, Salvini pledged to “free Emilia-Romagna from the left” ahead of the 26th January 2020 elections. The current administration is under the control of the centre-left Democratic party, which rules with the Five Star Movement. 

The aim of '6000 Sardines' was to gather 6000 people in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore, to exceed the number of Lega and right wing coalition supporters at an indoor sports arena in Bologna - which has the capacity to accommodate about 5,700 people. In Bologna, the initiative led to a turnout of an estimated 12,000-15,000 people.

In response, Salvini has mocked the movement, stating: “Next time, I’ll go to the square with them.”

Social media was used to spread the message of various gatherings. In Modena, the second square gathering, an estimated 7,000 people crammed together in Piazza Grande as the former interior minister campaigned in the city before the crucial regional elections in Emilia Romagna.

The gatherings have spread to many other cities: Palermo, Reggio Emilia, Perugia, Roma, Rimini, Parma, Firenze, Napoli, Ferrara, Milano, Avellino, Torino, Antwerp and Brussels.

The group has now launched a Manifesto and registered with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (Euipo).