Just in time to make the headlines in the Italian evening newspapers on Wednesday evening (January 13), Matteo Renzi withdrew the two ministers of his small party, Italia Viva, Teresa Bellanova and Elena Bonetti – formalizing the political crisis of the government led by the former Minister Minister Giuseppe Conte.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Renzi accused Conte and his government of undermining Italy’s democratic institutions and missing any plans.
Renzi, himself a former prime minister, also said he had no bias against the current prime minister, although there were other possible names in the hat.
According to Riccardo Brizzi, associate professor of contemporary history at the University of Bologna, “Renzi was the main architect of the creation of this government in the summer of 2019 – and we do not understand the reason for this rupture”.
Among other things, notes Brizzi, “Since December, Italy has held the presidency of the G20. The last country to experience a serious internal crisis during the presidency of the G20 was Argentina, which, with all due respect must, would not demonstrate the institutional capacity and political solidity of our country”.
Lorenzo Dellai, former MP and ex-governor of Trentino (the wealthy autonomous region and longtime stronghold of democratic Catholicism in the Alps) said: “I don’t believe the current government is ideal, many of the criticisms made by Renzi are founded.
“However, opening a crisis in the midst of a health and socio-economic emergency and with the risk of early elections, is a bet that I neither understand nor share. It also widens the gap between the people and politics”.
And not everyone in the Italian parliament is willing to hold early elections.
Renzi is certainly not: his Italia Viva party is less than 3% in the polls. In new elections, its current 48 seats in parliament would likely go up in smoke.
So Renzi could then agree to keep Conte as prime minister, albeit weakened, perhaps so his government can fall this summer, when the expiring president of the republic will no longer be able to dissolve parliament and call new elections.
The Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party also have little interest in going to the polls: the far-right coalition led by Matteo Salvini’s League and Georgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy would get a high score, and the Democrat, currently the second party in the polls. , would likely end up in opposition.
“This crisis opened within the center-left coalition, because of internal problems in the coalition”, points out Guido Crosetto, co-founder and national coordinator of the ultra-conservative Brothers of Italy.
“Situations like this are usually resolved in private as this crisis was brought to the media weeks ago. Our country is on its knees and this crisis is not helping to have confidence in politics. It is no surprise that people get angry.”
Democratic Party Secretary Nicola Zingaretti called Renzi’s decision “extremely damaging.”
“This crisis is completely incomprehensible for citizens, for international observers,” according to Emanuele Felice, professor and head of the economic department of the Democratic Party. “According to a poll published by the newspaper La Stampa, 70% of Italians watch it with dismay, concern or anger. Only 5% are interested.”
According to Marco Follini, former Deputy Prime Minister, “Italy is in the midst of an endless transition because the old parties no longer exist but a new system has not emerged in the vacuum left”.
According to Follini, “this crisis will probably end by going back to where it started – that is, a third Conte government will be formed with Renzi who, in his own way, will be part of the mix”.
“End of July, [president Sergio] Mattarella’s “white semester” [the final six-months of his presidential term] begins, preventing the possibility of dissolving the chambers and calling new elections,” says Gianfranco Pasquino, one of Italy’s most respected political scientists.
“Therefore, if they want to go to elections, it must be done in the next five to six weeks. But I do not foresee an election because it would be suicide, not only of the current majority, but also of the party of Renzi”.
“Weaknesses and Dangers”
On Wednesday, Achille Variati, Undersecretary for the Interior, told EUobserver that all is not lost. “We need the patience of dialogue. I look with hope to these days of great confrontation, but if it ends in a rupture, I see a lot of weakness and danger for our country”.
Laura Boldrini, former President of the Chamber of Deputies and MP for the Gauche Ecologie Liberté party, said that “the political forces that created this majority should once again sit around a table to define a program of priorities between now and end of the legislature, and assess whether it is necessary to strengthen the government team”.
On Thursday, Italian newspapers hinted that the Democratic Party would not be so hostile to a vote in June.
But probably, according to a Five Star Movement source, “it’s a trick to scare the deputies of Italia Viva and other small parties. One way or another, the votes for Conte will come.”
For many business people, however, the best way out of this crisis would be a new government that can put economic recovery first.
Above all, to best manage the billions of euros due to the EU Recovery Fund, a competent cabinet, less national and regional bureaucracy and less taxes for companies are necessary.
The talent to be hated
A Lombardy-based entrepreneur told EUobserver, “This government is made up of theoreticians and academics. We need pragmatism, which Italian politicians don’t have, neither in Rome, nor in Milan or Venice.”
“I don’t know if Renzi acted right or wrong in putting an end to Conte’s government,” says Carlo Valerio, entrepreneur and president of the Padua branch of the Confederation of Italian Small and Medium Industries. “Renzi is very good at getting hated. Some of the things he says make sense, some don’t.”
For Crosetto, “there is a total ignorance of the business world on the part of the majority of the Italian bureaucracy and political class”.
Many liberal and conservative media are now calling for a technical government led by Mario Draghi, described as a “savior of the country” in waiting.
For Valerio, “we are talking about more than 200 billion euros, and the only person in Italy who really knows what 200 billion euros is is Draghi”.