Italy’s strange political crisis could mean an election is necessary

By Vincenzo Caccioppoli

AFTER a week of back and forth, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had to surrender and resign in the hands of the head of state, formally opening the political crisis began by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who withdrew his party from the government .

Now the ball of this crazy all-Italian crisis passes into the hands of the head of state Sergio Mattarella, who will have to decide whether to give a new job to Conte, choose someone else to lead the government or, as the opposition is clamouring for, send the country to vote.

The situation is made even more complicated by the fact that there is a pandemic which is causing, as in the whole world, a devastating economic crisis. The solution that seems the easiest and most comfortable one, namely that of voting, becomes precisely for this reason the most difficult and tortuous one.

Conte, an Apulian lawyer, who surprisingly became premier of a government led by the Lega and the Five Star Movement in 2018, overcame a difficult task and learned very early the difficult rules and tactics of Italian politics, but perhaps for too much ambition or security of if it has perhaps stressed too much on itself the management of the crisis and the fundamental aid of 2019 billion euros foreseen by the European recovery plan.

But he did not deal with the equally ambitious and proud former premier Matteo Renzi, who had been one of the protagonists of the formation of the second Conte government in the summer of 2019, after the crisis opened by Matteo Salvini, leader of the League.

Matteo Renzi convinced his party of the time – the Democratic Party – to form a majority with the Five Star Movement around the name of Conte, to avoid elections and to hand over the government of the country to the right from Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, leader of Fratelli d’Italia, a right-wing party that is gaining a lot of support in the polls.

After the formation of the government, Matteo Renzi left his old party to form a new party, Italia Viva, perhaps to have free hands in the management of the new government, and has been a thorn in the side of the new majority from the beginning.

But evidently the grudges have not subsided and some errors in the management of the pandemic and in the compilation of the Recovery fund led to a tear by Renzi.

Conte’s attempts to find a new majority in the Senate proved to be in vain and therefore the crisis officially began with the resignation of the government.

Now the situation is very complicated, because the Democratic Party and Five Stars would like Conte to be hired, while Renzi would likely prefer another name at the head of the government. The opposition is united in calling for early elections.

It is difficult to think that the Five Star Movement, which has many internal conflicts, can say no to a hypothesis of this type. And this Renzi, who is a skilled tactician, knows it well, and in his heart he feels he has obtained the result of him, which was to eliminate Prime Minister Conte. But this risks a pyrrhic victory for him, because of his party faring poorly in the polls and in the event of elections it would risk not even entering parliament.

The solution of this crisis is therefore very difficult, because without Renzi it seems difficult to find a new majority unless one manages to convince the party of another former president Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia, to enter an institutional government (perhaps with the leads an important name such as Mario Draghi, former president of the ECB) with the Democratic Party and Five Stars, thus breaking the unity of the centre-right, which in the polls is given largely in the lead in the event of elections.

Everything is possible but the important thing, as they also say from Brussels, is to act quickly, because the country is facing a crucial moment in its history and cannot be caught unprepared for the great opportunity to use the Recovery Fund funds well.

But to do this you need a strong and cohesive government. And this is why in the end I propose the most difficult situation – an election – could eventually become the only viable solution.

Vincenzo Caccioppoli is a Rome-based journalist focusing on international politics. He is the editor of the Farefuturo foundation in international politics.

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Featured Image: Governo @WikimediaCommons

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