As the devil comes out of his box, Matteo Renzi chose his moment, the third wave of Covid-19, to provoke yet another political crisis in Italy by withdrawing his party, Italia Viva, from the ruling coalition.
The government of Giuseppe Conte (coalition between the Democratic Party, PD, the 5 Star Movement, M5S, and small centrist parties) is therefore suspended until Tuesday, January 19. After a vote of confidence from the senators, we will know at the end of the day whether or not the president of the council obtains the majority necessary to continue to govern.
→ ANALYSIS. In the midst of a pandemic, Italy is facing yet another political crisis
“A high risk strategy”
In the event that Giuseppe Conte does not obtain the confidence of the Senate, he can resign and the president will appoint another personality of his choice to take the leadership of the government – the name of Mario Dragui, former president of the European Central Bank (ECB ), is mentioned. Or elections will be organized within at least three months, which would most likely see the right of Matteo Salvini (23% of the vote) and the far right of Georgia Meloni (16%) come to power.
→ TO READ. Italy: Matteo Renzi jeopardizes the Conte government
« It’s a risky bet that Matteo Renzi is making, and it’s a high-risk strategy, says Luigi Scazzieri, a researcher at the Center for European Reform. We’ll see if Renzi manages to take down Giuseppe Conte or if it’s Conte who will take down Renzi. »
Officially, Matteo Renzi disagrees with the President of the Council on his choices regarding the use of the stimulus program of 222.9 billion euros drawn from the mega-plan of 750 billion euros, adopted in the summer of 2020 by European leaders, and of which Italy is the main beneficiary. He criticizes Giuseppe Conte for aligning himself with the M5S and “Squandering public money” by granting tax rebates and ad hoc aid for electoral reasons instead of taking advantage of this windfall to invest and reform structurally.
It also calls for recourse to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a fund with a lending capacity of 410 billion intended for euro-zone countries in difficulty. In this context, Italy, a contributor of 17.9%, could receive up to 37 billion additional euros.
European financial manna
Big money business? A little, but not only. Certainly, the European financial manna whets appetites, and the head of government, whoever he is, can do a lot with it, which is not negligible for someone who wants to relaunch his political career. This is the case of Matteo Renzi who fell into the oblivion of Italian politics. He certainly has a party, Italia Viva, but he only accounts for 2 to 3% of the vote.
More likely the “Florentine” – Matteo Renzi is from Florence where he was the mayor from 2009 to 2014 – is looking for a way to bounce back politically. The “Scrapper” (demolisher) as he was nicknamed at the time of his splendor, stormed, at 38, the reins of the Democratic Party for, he says, “ send the old ruling class to the scrapyard ».
In 2014, the young chairman of the board succeeded in a master stroke by winning the European elections with 40% of the vote, it is the consecration. But in 2016, his arrogance and megalomania, which earned him the nickname “Renzusconi” or “little Berlusconi”, played tricks on him. His constitutional referendum was a failure followed, in 2018, by a sanction vote in the legislative elections. Matteo Renzi leaves the Democratic Party with record unpopularity.
Today, the man at 46, he is still young and ambitious. ” On the one hand, Conte has gained popularity with his management of Covid-19, on the other Renzi has lost some. Conte is a threat to Renzi ”, judge Luigi Scazzieri.
« Matteo Salvini has never digested to no longer be President of the Council. He thinks he will succeed by putting the knife to the throat of the government, analysis Ludmila Acone, historian, specialist in Italy, researcher associated with Paris I. But the secretary of the Democratic Party, Nicolas Zingaretti, does not welcome his return ”.
Supported by Liliana Segre
« It is very difficult to know if Giuseppe Conte will manage to find enough support in the small centrist parties or in the opposition to gain the confidence of the Senate on Tuesday, estimates Luigi Scazzieri. Many try to monetize their participation. But the fear of new elections that would bring the right to power can be a strong motivation to find another solution. If Giuseppe Conte resigns, Matteo Renzi can choose to support a new candidate ».
In the meantime, for 70% of Italians, this political crisis is unwelcome. So the left is mobilizing behind the president of the council. He received the support of independent senator Liliana Segre, a Holocaust survivor, a highly respected figure in Italy. Despite her 90 years and the health risks she runs, she will move to the Senate on Tuesday. ” Italy is in danger, I’m going to Rome to vote for confidence in Conte », She declared.