Public Policy Dynamics Italy

by RPP colleagues

Health and Politics in Italy

Total COVID-19 cases:2,336,279
14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:379.05
14-day change:+41.1
Total COVID-19 deaths:80,848
14-day rise:8,923
  • As foreseen at the end of December, the tensions within the majority around the Recovery Fund and the ESM led, in the end, to a government crisis. The former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (Italy Alive leader) announced the resignation from the government of the ministers Teresa Bellanova, Elena Bonetti and undersecretary Ivan Scalfarotto. Many scenarios seem possible, but at the moment early elections seem the most remote one.
  • Although the idea of a crisis had been going on for some months, one of the events that triggered the government crisis was Matteo Renzi's call for a "Health ESM": using ESM funds for more money invested in healthcare. The opinions of the governing parties have been very divergent on this issue for several months.
  • The state of emergency, which was due to end on 31 January 2021, was recently extended until 30 April 2021. In the meantime, the vaccine plan is proceeding as planned. Italy is leading the EU by way of the number of people vaccinated.


  • On 6 January, the former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (Italy Alive party leader) sent a letter to the government, detailing 30 points that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had promised to solve by November 2020, but, in his opinion, he had failed to reach. On 12 January a vote on a new version of the Recovery Plan was held which included some of Renzi’s requests, but it was not enough. After the vote, Renzi said he was ready to have his two ministers resign from government.
  • On the afternoon of Wednesday 13 January, Matteo Renzi announced the resignation of Italy Alive ministers Teresa Bellanova, Elena Bonetti and undersecretary Ivan Scalfarotto, officially opening the government crisis. Renzi affirmed the outcome of the crisis is in the hands of the prime minister now. It must be noted that Matteo Renzi has not ruled out a new government led by Conte and added that he believes the vote will take place in 2023 and not now. Right-wing leaders Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, in a note, called for Conte's immediate resignation. It is clear that the government parties would like to avoid early elections. However, many scenarios are now possible:
    • The majority very quickly finds a new agreement and there is a return to the status quo or some slight changes in the Government.
    • Giuseppe Conte offers his resignation to President Mattarella. Then, Mattarella could “freeze” Conte’s resignation to allow him to find an agreement with the majority. An agreement with the current majority would mean a new government led by Conte.
    • Mattarella can consult the other parties to find a political agreement. If an agreement is found among parties, this could lead to three different situations: 1) a government with the same majority but led by a different PM, 2) a technical government or a national unity government, 3) a government led again by Giuseppe Conte.
    • If it is not possible to find an agreement, President Mattarella will have to call early elections (to be noted that starting from this election, the number of parliamentary seats will be reduced as decided during the Referendum in September 2020).



  • The government crisis has been triggered by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s request for larger funds for the healthcare system. After the many tensions triggered by Matteo Renzi, the Minister for Economy Roberto Gualtieri reopened the Recovery Plan document to include some of Renzi’s requests, including the increase to €19 billion for health funds. However, the vote took place and was concluded with the abstention of the two ministers Teresa Bellanova and Elena Bonetti.
  • Before the Council of Ministers for the vote on the Recovery Plan, Matteo Renzi had again put forward the request for a “Health ESM”. During the Council of Ministers meeting, the two ministers of Italia Viva would have put forward the request for a health ESM as an essential point, provoking a harsh reaction from the prime minister and the other members of the Government. The other government parties believe that, even if they decide to activate the ESM, those money cannot be used as additional resources for health care spending. In addition, there is no parliamentary majority ready to request the health ESM, and as a consequence Matteo Renzi opened a government crisis on the resources for health.



  • Italy is the lead EU country in terms of the number of people vaccinated, and has already used 64% of the doses that have arrived in the country, administering 910,000 people. Most of the Regions, in fact, have set aside 30% of the doses for booster shots. With the currently approved vaccines, Pfizer-BionTech and Moderna, 30 million Italians could be vaccinated by the end of 2021. If the EMA gives the green light to AstraZeneca’s vaccine, Italy would receive an additional 40 million doses in 2021. Through this, 50 million Italians could be vaccinated within the year and 9 million within the first quarter. Regarding the categories to be vaccinated, the campaign started with health workers and there will soon be a second wave of vaccinations for people over 80 years old. The Italian Parliament has approved a very detailed vaccination plan, with categories ordered according to the level of exposure to infection and the level of fragility.
  • Italy continues to use to colour-based categories for each region, based on the number of COVID-19 cases. Most of the regions are currently yellow, except five that remain orange. There are no red areas (which translates to a partial lockdown situation). However, Health Minister Roberto Speranza remains concerned about the situation and affirms there cannot be a relaxation of the measures to fight the pandemic. As a consequence, the State of emergency has been extended to 30 April. On 16 January a new Prime Minister Decree (DPCM) will enter into force, with a ban on movement between regions and the establishment of a white zone for regions with weekly incidence of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.


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