The Secretary of the Democratic Party (DP) Matteo Renzi announced his resignation over the disastrous outcome of the main centre-left formation in Italy (did the Italian centre-left ever exist, though?). He did so in such a twisted way that many of his party colleagues remained highly skeptical about his actual intentions. Renzi said he would resign only after the formation of a new government, but he already set the way for the party’s future moves: something you wouldn’t expect from a politician leaving his post. He ruled out a coalition with the “extremist forces” which won the election the day before: the 5 Star Movement and the North League.
However, given the limited options, a new government formed by both the 5 Star Movement (5SM) and the Democratic Party (DP) it’s in the country best interest, as it would set aside 1) the possibility of a right wing government with both the moderate and the extremist right as main partners, 2) a North League-5SM government and 3) new elections, that would further strenghten DP’s counterparts.
The DP already tried to form a government with the 5SM in 2013, but they failed to reach mutual understanding due to the 5SM hardline. This time could be different: the leader of the 5SM Luigi Di Maio seems more collaborative than his previous colleagues, although how and with whom he intends to carry out the negotiations remains to be seen.
If they were both open to such an agreement, they would have to compromise and share key government positions; the move would not be appreciated by both the respective voter bases, but that’s not surprising: every government coming out of this mess would displease large portions of the electorate. Sure, it is diffcult to imagine how parties which fought like cat and dog throughout the past years could lead a government without significant frictions or agree on a single program in the first place, but that would not be the first time though: the Democratic Party pondered – and consolidated – alliances with Berlusconi and other right-wing parties multiple times in the past.
Another, and maybe more likely, option would be for the DP to offer its external support, by letting the 5SM govern with its vote of confidence in the Parliament’s two chambers. Let’s be clear: doesn’t matter what moves the DP makes, its numbers are not going to rise in the short and the mid-term. As a citizen though, I am more concerned about the future of my country than the party’s fate.
Unfortunately, most of the DP leading figures rule out any form of alliance. They reject this idea with conviction, arguing that the party’s future is clearly to the opposition. That’s an easy way to escape responsibility though: Germany’s Socialdemocratic Party (SPD) offers a clear example of a deafeted party governing the country again to not let the far right gain power; the possibility of an extremist government should worry the Democrats as well. It should also be remembered that the DP is still the second most voted party: a M5S-DP government would represent more italians than a M5S-North League coalition.
Last week a Dutch-led group of North-European countries issued a document which clearly opposes the proto-federalist and reformist pathway outlined by the Franco-German axis, despite the Rome Declaration signed on March 25th; Macron and the German government need a strong, europhile Italy. While the 5 Star Movement is not exactly the best partner for a staunch Europeanist, it is the best we can get at this moment. We can’t allow for Germany and France to be crushed between nationalist approaches from both North and South.
The right has not the needed majority to form a governing coalition, but they are closer than anyone. As we all know, politics is unpredictable and if responsibility does not prevail we could experience the same shock which hit the United States in 2016.
Welcome, President Salvini.
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