Saturday

31st Oct 2020

Italy: New government without Salvini in the making

  • (Photo: Reuters)

Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has proposed to form a technical government without the far-right League party, in a potential threat to League chief Matteo Salvini's ambitions.

The "institutional government" would include left and centre-right parties for the sake of national unity, Renzi said on Sunday (11 August).

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Those who preferred to gamble with Italy in elections in October or November risked handing the "future of our children to the extreme right", he added.

Renzi spoke out after Salvini launched his bid to take power in Italy earlier last week.

The migrant-bashing interior minister has called on parliament to convene from recess to vote on his existing coalition with the Five Star Movement (5MS) party.

The vote is likely to trigger elections in which the League can count on 36 percent of nationwide support, according to latest polls.

A bonus seat system in Italian electoral rules means the League could take power with the support of a fringe party instead of 5MS.

And Salvini already announced he would prefer to build a coalition with the far right Fratelli d'Italia and/or the party of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

An institutional government

Other politicians joined Renzi in raising the alarm, indicating that Salvini's plan is not in the bag yet, however.

Enrico Letta, a former prime minister and ex-leader of the left Democratic Party, said in an interview that Salvini "has no principles"

"One day, he can say he wants Europe, the next that he wants to leave. With Salvini, an Italian 'Brexit' is not impossible," Letta warned.

Letta also suggested that a new government could be formed under the leadership of the current prime minister, academic Giuseppe Conte, at least until an Italian candidate for the European Commission was appointed and the budget for 2020 was approved.

Difficult majority

Despite the emotional call by two former prime ministers, it will not be easy to find a majority for a technical government in the Senate.

A new coalition needs the support of 161 senators. Today the 5MS has 107 senators and the League has 58. The Democratic Party (PD) has only 51 senators, which means that votes need to be found with smaller parties on the left, the right, or with some senators who earlier left the 5MS.

Another problem is that the new PD leader, Nicola Zingaretti, ruled out supporting such a new coalition, on the very same day Renzi proposed it.

Nevertheless, the PD and the 5MS have a shared interest in voting a new electoral reform law.

This law would delete the bonus for the largest party and go back to a proportional system.

This electoral law is ready to be filed in the parliament. The League is not in favour of the law, seeing that according to the latest opinion polls the party would benefit from the electoral bonus.

That is the reason why the probability of a new coalition without the League is higher than one might expect at first sight.

Anyone but Salvini?

Meanwhile, the idea of a "technical government of president Mattarella" is also gaining ground.

Conte already suggested this idea to Italy's president Sergio Mattarella on 7 August.

According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, other names are also popping up to lead a technical government.

One of them is Mario Draghi, current director of the European Central Bank. Another is Marta Cartabia, professor and vice-president of Italy's Constitutional Court.

In order to discuss the future of the Italian government, the leaders of the political groups of the senate will gather on Monday, the ones of the chamber the day after.

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