Our writer Andrea Nicolini, based in Italy, gives his thoughts to highlight the current political situation in his country.
News from Italy
Italy is experiencing, along with all European countries, a dramatic situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are many challenges to deal with, such as the vaccination programme and the so-called Recovery Plan (which is to say, stating how to spend European funds). It is there a period in which great efficiency and unity should not be lacking. Nevertheless, the Government led by Giuseppe Conte may fall in the next few days. Let’s investigate why.
Four parties make up the coalition that backs Conte’s Cabinet: the Five Star Movement (big tent), Democratic Party (centre-left), Liberi e Uguali (left) and Italia Viva (centre). The leader of the latter is the well-known former PM Matteo Renzi, who has recently had the great idea of not backing the Government anymore.
Two Ministers resign
As a consequence, two Ministers (both members of Renzi’s Party) resigned on January 13th, in fact beginning a difficult phase of political crisis. Giuseppe Conte is now expected to check whether he has majority support in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Without the support of Italia Viva, the Senate would probably not renew their confidence and the PM would have to resign. This will happen unless Giuseppe Conte is able to find the support of a sufficiently wide number of Senators from other parties. This, at the moment, seems improbable but not impossible. The debates and votes in the Italian Parliament will take place on Monday and Tuesday.
A new deal and a new coalition government?
Should Conte resign, there are several potential scenarios and nothing is certain. The Head of State, Sergio Mattarella, would have to check the willingness of parties to try and form a deal to support a new government. In fact, even the current coalition (Renzi’s party included) may find a new deal, but this would not be simple. Indeed, Five Star Leaders have announced that they do not find Renzi a reliable ally. That makes it unlikely that we will see the centre-right parties forming a new Cabinet, but not completely impossible – they would have to find a deal as well with the Five Stars or the centre-left. One of the few people reported to be, perhaps, able to make all parties agree is Mario Draghi, a former President of the European Central Bank. This, though, remains a mere hypothesis at present.
A new general election?
If no government is formed, the only choice will be an early election in the spring. Polls report that the centre-right coalition would most likely win, with nearly 50% support. The European Union would not be happy, given that the right-wing Lega and national conservative Fratelli d’Italia, part of the centre-right coalition with Berlusconi’s party, are quite eurosceptic. It is therefore clear why centre-left leaders, as well as the Five Stars, seem very unwilling for this possibility. We should then expect a new deal between these latter two, but as is often the case in Italy, nothing is certain. We will have to wait until next week to see what happens.