This article is the result of two ethnographic studies carried out between 2009 and 2013 in various areas of Eastern Sicily among the leaders and local representatives of the Movimento per le autonomie (Mpa). The Mpa was a political party that referred to the autonomist history of the island and was rooted in particular in the area of Catania. It was founded in 2005 by a group of politicians who had started their long political careers in the Christian Democracy and was led by Raffaele Lombardo, who was the president of the Sicilian Region from 2008 to 2012. The government led by Lombardo was characterized by considerable instability and the party’s executive officers were continuously accused of clientelistic exchanges and corruption by political opponents and the media. My ethnographic research focused on the practices put in place by local candidates and the party leaders to get electoral success. Clientelism dynamics promoted within the Mpa are not only everyday practices lived and acted by the subjects: they are at the same time constantly enunciated by the latter, both in public debate and in the private sphere. The Mpa, therefore, was a peculiar observation point on the nature of the concept of clientelism, thought and disseminated by social scientists with reference to these territories, and on the forms in which it is used and rethought by subjects operating in the political sphere.
Keywords: Local politics; Political identities; Movimento per le autonomie; Clientelism.