Former Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt Runs for Mayor of Florence with Support of Italian Right

After months of speculation, the self-described “Aristotelian centrist” Eike Schmidt, former director of the Uffizi galleries, has launched a bid to become the next mayor of Florence, Italy.

Schmidt announced over the weekend that his campaign will have the support of reactionary right parties, the League, Forza Italia, and Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy. If Schmidt wins, it would be a major shock, as Florence (and Tuscany) have long been a stronghold for the center-left, the Guardian reported Sunday.

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In a recent poll, Schmidt was only eight points behind the center-left mayoral candidate Sara Funaro. Giovanni Donzelli, a politician with Brothers of Italy, described Schmidt’s run for office as “bad news for the left.”

Schmidt’s right-wing candidacy was described by the Guardian as ironic, given that, in December, the country’s Ministry of Culture announced that it was seeking to put only Italian-born citizens as directors of leading museums. In 2022, Italy’s then-recently appointed culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, harhsly criticized Schmidt’s decision to close the Uffizi on a national holiday.

In December, Schmidt was asked what party he supports by the Italian news outlet La Repubblica to which he responded that he was “more as an Aristotelian centrist than a representative of the right.”

“I’m a democrat and antifascist,” he said. “I won’t back down on this, even if I decide to run for mayor.” Schmidt’s campaign is centered on security in Florence and curbing what he described as “over-tourism.”

After his tenure at the Uffizi, Schmidt became the director of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. His term at the Capodimonte lasts four years. In order to campaign for mayor Schmidt will request a leave of absence. Should he win, he will be forced to relinquish the post. 

Schmidt’s decision to run has proven to be unpopular in certain circles. The mayor of Naples, Gaetano Manfredi, said Schmidt’s decision was perplexing. “Returning to the role, after an electoral campaign that will certainly be bloody, means Schmidt would lose the value of impartiality that Capodimonte’s authority demands,” he said in the Italian press.

Vincenzo De Luca, the president of the Campania region of which Naples is the capital, said Schmidt’s mayor run was “offensive for Naples, for Campania and for the world culture in our country” adding that he found “the idea of keeping the management of the Capodimonte in abeyance pending the outcome of the municipal elections in Florence unacceptable.”

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