The long and winding road

by Francesco Coccia
Our Italian specialist Francesco Coccia wrote an article on the Italian Government building.

More than one month has passed since the Italian elections. The Parliament has begun to work thanks to an agreement regarding the election of the Speakers and the appointment of Parliamentary offices.

Movimento 5 Stelle and the Centre-right coalition have agreed the nominees but they have not found proper solutions for the Government. 

Presidential talks

The deadlock arose during the first round of presidential talks. The Head of the State, Mr. Mattarella, has concluded the first round without formally appointing anyone to form a government. In a press conference, he described the lack of a clear majority in the Chambers of the Parliament and he acknowledged the disagreement between the political parties. The President added that the crisis is also caused by the election results fragmentation. Following the elections, a majority of the vote was attained by the Centre-right coalition. On the other hand, M5S party obtained a number of votes close to the whole right coalition.

A game of dominoes

The game of dominoes to find matching partners for government continues but is characterised by confused declarations. Nonetheless, these declarations have guaranteed that any coalition is achievable. In the Italian mainstream, it is called the ‘two stoves politics’ where it is important to keep both stoves warm. 

The situation inside and among the party

Mr. Di Maio, the leader of Movimento 5 Stelle, has spent one month proclaiming his party the winner of the election and himself as the natural candidate to become the Prime Minister. After the dialogue with the President of the Republic, he has altered his view and called one or both of Lega and Partito Democratico to carry out a specific programme in order to form a Government, similar to the approach taken in the German negotiations. He also continues to veto the former leaders (in particular: Berlusconi and Renzi). 

The Lega party maintains difficulties with the centre-right coalition, in particular with Forza Italia led by Silvio Berlusconi. The centre-right coalition, created to obtain a good result during the March 4th election, seems constantly on the brink of collapsing. This was manifested during the Speakers’ Chamber election, when Mr. Berlusconi and other Forza Italia bigwigs declared the conclusion of the coalition before resolving conflict around a new agreement. Still, for Mr. Salvini now is the time to choose his future path, and that of his party.

Mr. Salvini has already stated that he agrees to negotiate a government with M5S but he said that cannot accept the request to betray Mr. Berlusconi by excluding his party from the discussions. In the meantime, negotiations are also being conducted by other relevant members of the party. In these hours, Mr. Salvini hammered out a strategy that includes the whole coalition. He announced that the centre-right coalition will attend the second round of presidential talks as an individual delegation and not divided per party like in the first.

Meanwhile, Partito Democratico is in a volatile situation. The party is divided between Renzi’s supporters and opponents. The weak election outcome has triggered in-fighting and this turmoil is affecting the negotiations with other political parties. Mr. Renzi is persuading his loyal Members of Parliament to reject any compromise with M5S in order to remain in opposition whereas some members of the PD are willing to discuss a government programme with M5S. On April 21st, the PD convened the assembly in interest of appoint new leader. The results of this internal convention will be important to understand the futures strategy of the former ruling party. Furthermore, two regions are going to the elections. They are not pivotal regions but in this confused scenario Friuli Venezia Giulia and Molise would be prize regional wins for the parties.

In particular, in Friuli Venezia Giulia polls show a huge advantage for Lega. The candidate is Mr. Fedriga who is very close to the leader Salvini. Currently, the region is run by PD and the Governor is Mrs. Debora Serracchiani. She has been an influential member of the party ruled by Mr. Renzi.

Meanwhile, polls in the small Molise region foresee a victory for M5S. If this happens it would be the first region that M5S controls.

In conclusion, the outcome of the second round of presidential talks is at the risk for the lack of concrete arrangements among political parties.

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