Italy is approaching a decisive moment, as the time given to the political parties to avoid a huge political crisis is about to expire. The president of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, authorised the Democratic Party (PD) and the Five Star Movement (M5S) to hold negotiations in order to see whether forming a new government is possible.
The prospects for an agreement between M5S and PD look good. A preliminary agreement apparently was reached, since Mattarella gave time until next Monday, 2 September, to form a new government.
At the same time problems remain. The compatibility between the two sides has to be proven. Honestly speaking, it is very difficult to understand how PD and M5S can work together. Basically people from the Movement don’t trust at all MPs from PD, considered as “part of the system”. And the Five Stars are by definition “anti-system”.
A matter of seats
The composition of the next government is of course one of the main issues on the table. The Democratic Party declared to be ready to allow Giuseppe Conte to keep being the prime minister. And indeed it will be Conte the head of the next government. In return, the social-democrats are asking Luigi Di Maio, the leader of M5S, to renounce to be vice prime minister. By a PD point of view, if Di Maio is confirmed vice prime minister and Conte is confirmed prime minister, there will be no real change in the government. That’s why the social-democrats are pressing Di Maio to quit and allow somebody else to replace him.
The minister of Finance is another hot topic. PD is claiming the seat for itself. Stefano Fassina is the man seen as the best option for the next executive body. The Democratic Party made clear that the new citizenship income wont’ be touched. This is a concession made to the Movement in order to convince the Five Stars to work together.
An internal matter for all
Together with the negotiations at political level comes the issue of the internal consent. Both parties need to be sure to receive the green light from the inside. For PD it means a positive vote from inside the party, for M5S it means a positive vote from voters logged into the Rousseau platform.
The Democratic party in many different internal factions. One of those is Matteo Renzi’s. Renzi was prime minister of Italy, and before his demise was able to bring to the Parliament all his loyal MPs. The secretary of the party, Nicola Zingaretti, is conducting the negotiations with the Five Stars. The problem is Zingaretti doesn’t belong to the same Renzi’s faction, and people from the Movement fear that Zingaretti has no control over MPs from PD.
On the other hand, politicians from PD fear that any eventual deal could be rejected on-line. They fear the so-called “direct democracy” and the process supposed to control the ballot on the internet. One of the requests submitted by Zingaretti to the Movement was not to put the political agreement under the scrutiny of the Rousseau people.
A matter of commissioners
In the meanwhile Italy is not conducting any negotiation for the European Commissioner. No names have been found, so the president elected of the next EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has nothing from Italy.
Mattarella is aware that a lot is at stake, so far. He doesn’t want to waste other time to search for a possible government. In his mind there is no political alternative to a PD-M5S government. He would like to have in place as soon as possible. By 15 October the budgetary law must be sent to Brussels, and calling for new elections would make impossible to work on such a bill.
Last but not least, Mattarella doesn’t like the idea of a government of experts. In case of a failure, he will have to choose between new elections and a non-political ruling team. In the first case Italy will have no fiscal laws and it will be paralyzed in its expenditure. In the second scenario the leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, will blame the president of the Republic and the non-political government, growing in consent.
Finally he opted for a second government led by Giuseppe Conte. Now the new coalition must create a ruling team. Beppe Grillo, the comedian and founder of the Movement, asked to shape a new kind of government. He would like having ministers coming from outside the political world and undersecretaries of State with more political attributions.