Mario Draghi finally gives up – and Letta’s coalition hopes are dashed

By Vincenzo Caccioppoli

IT SEEMS Italians haven’t had enough of voting.

After a frantic day in the Senate last week, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi decide to pull the plug from a government, which put in enormous difficulty by the decision of Giuseppe Conte, former premier and five-star leader not to vote for confidence in the “decretoAiuti (decree on economic aid)” measure.

The Draghi government born a year and a half ago to overcome the umpteenth crisis of a legislature that was born badly and ended even worse, gives way to early elections, loudly demanded for some time by the only one left in the opposition Giorgia Meloni, whose Fratelli d’Italia party was steaming ahead in the polls.

It was, as mentioned, a shocking day, because few could have imagined that the leaders of Lega and Forza Italia could in essence decide for the end of a government that had seen them on the front bench for more than a year.

It was the leader of the League in the Senate, Massimiliano Romeo, with a very sharp speech who gave a sort of ultimatum to the premier for a change of pace and to decide for a new government without the Five Star Movement.

Draghi rejected this hypothesis and the Lega together with Forza Italia decided to push for a vote of no confidence.

Enrico Letta of the Democratic Party (Pd), who was blown away by this move, shouted at the irresponsibility of the three parties (Lega Forza and the Five Star Movement) – but in reality, his anger was at the knowledge that he could no longer find an alliance with the Five Star Movement to oppose the advance of the centre-right.

But Draghi was never too fond of, for different reasons, many of the parties that made up the vast majority of his government – and vice-versa, which could explain his downfall.

To Conte the antagonism was obvious – Draghi replaced him at the head of the government in February 2021.

To Salvini, beyond the superficial declarations, he could never tolerate too much this excessive detachment and a certain arrogance of the former governor of the Central Bank, towards the instances and requests of the majority parties.

Berlusconi, meanwhile, has an enormous egotism and does not tolerate strong personalities such as that of Draghi, who, moreover, who he has chosen as prime minister to lead the Bank of Italy first and the ECB later.

But even Letta himself, secretary of the Democratic Party, certainly took advantage of the stalemate, to lean on a strong personality like that of Draghi, to try to find a way out of his substantial isolation and oppose the coalition in the 2023 elections.

It was therefore almost natural that such a government should sooner or later fall. And so it was – and now Italy is back to the polls, as Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy, the only opposition force, has been asking for months.

The polls indicate the Meloni party as the first political force of the party and the centre-right coalition, which has returned compact and united after the crisis, as the one with the best chance of winning the elections to be held on 25 September.

The Democratic Party of Enrico Letta, who was certainly blown away by the move by Conte, Salvini and Berlusconi, now has to try in just over two months to find a square to unite all the centrist forces, to try to counter the center-right. The enterprise appears very difficult, because the secretary of the Democratic Party had been trying for months to create a so-called broad field that would unite his party, the Five Star Movement of the former premier Conte and the Left and run an election on a unified platform.

The plans were ruined by this sudden crisis, triggered by Conte himself. It is therefore unthinkable now to think of a recomposition of that hypothetical alliance on which Letta had been working for months.

Draghi has called himself out of the political arena, and the centre-left has no choice but to seek an aggregation of those parties that can converge on his pending program.

But without the former banker, everything becomes much more difficult. We cannot think of building an alliance that has as its only glue the attempt not to let the centre-right win.

It is difficult to imagine that Renzi, for example, who caused a split with the Democratic Party a few months ago, can now return to propose a political alliance in view of the elections. It is the usual mistake of the Italian left, which has been searching for its own identity for too long, but which instead seems to have found the opposite side, at least on the occasions that matter.

On the right there is a coalition that is cohesive on a common program and on an identity, which instead seems to be completely lacking in the Democratic Party, which tries to attack with desperation around the name of Draghi, heralded as a flag or a brand.

For too many years, the Italian centre-left seems to be lacking that spirit and that identity that can allow it to aggregate forces contrary to the centre-right project.

Italians will go the polls on September 25 – and the right could well reign supreme.

Featured Image: COP26 @ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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