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Italy - government in crisis

Updated: Apr 10

by Michelangelo Severgnini


It's a merciless picture of what happened in this last year. We must not forget that the M5S and the Democratic Party could form a new center-left government even tomorrow, if they wanted to. They have the numbers in the parliament.


Although Renzi was warmly invited by his party to be seen as little as possible around, the PD line in the last year, from the elections to today, has still been the fruit of his strategy, launched in the aftermath of the elections, ie : deny the votes to the M5S and let them go looking for them on the right, with the hope that this would drain down the left wing of the party, which would then return to vote for PD. The M5S falls from 32 to 17%, due to political ingenuity and thanks to Renzi's intuition.


It would be interesting to know the voting flows, but it is likely that most of the votes lost by the M5S went into abstention (only 55% of Italian voters voted in the European elections, making this the least voted political election in Italian republican history). The League rises from 16 to 34%.


This is the result of some factors: - Having formed a government without Berlusconi (kept out of force by the M5S), paradoxically credited him as the new right-wing leader in Italy, because he showed that the League could walk alone without Berlusconi (for the first time in the history the League in the March 2018 elections took more votes than Berlusconi). This meant that many voters (6-8%) left Berlusconi's party in favor of Salvini.


Another factor is the media one. The Italian and, above all, foreign press has emphasized Salvini's role in the government (wholly engulfing the responsibilities of the unavailable PD), giving the perception that he was the strong man. Looking at the facts, this government, the M5S side, has been able to do some left-wing maneuvers that have not been seen in Italy for decades: citizenship income, minimum wage, strict anti-corruption law.


However, Salvini and his anti-migrant policies made a lot of noise. On the subject the M5S has compromised a lot of credibility towards its voters. Not only because they are decidedly against the policies of Salvini, but above all because of a strategic fact because, despite the double number of members of the Lega, the M5S has not managed to dilute Salvini's racist tendencies. What is most surprising is how the PD, without having done anything in a year, with a new rather confused secretary still on many issues, managed to go from 17 to 24%. Evidently, the Renzi strategy actually paid a delayed effect.


The issues are now 2: 1) How does the M5S believe it can recover these votes? With a left turn to recover the 32% magic? Possible. Will Di Maio maintain the same role or will he be downgraded for this result? If the M5S tries to recover the confidence of the left-wing voters, does this mean dropping the government? 2) Salvini's plan seems clear. Put this 34% in the safe and wait for the definitive end of Forza Italia (8%), the party of Berlusconi, to then divide the votes with Fratelli d'Italia, the party of Giorgia Meloni, extreme right party, today at 7% .


The sum, today, would make 49%. As long as Berlusconi's party exists and claims some moral leadership on the center-right coalition, Salvini has only to lose by forming a government with Berlusconi, an old corrupted and discredited leader. This explains the strange alchemy for which an M5S-Lega government creates such an osmosis that the League takes votes and the M5S loses them. I believe there will be big jolts, but positive. The left? 2.4%, below the threshold. For Gramsci's grandchildren it is a paradox not to realize that it is a matter of lost hegemony, of not being able to talk to the people by having created a often privileged parallel society.

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