The resignation, this Wednesday 13, of two ministers of the cabinet of the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, plunged a country in a political crisis vis-a-vis a third wave of pandemic infections which has already made more than 80,000 deaths.
Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, leader of the Italia Viva party, announced the departure of ministers Teresa Bellanova (Agriculture) and Elena Bonetti (Family) – leaving the ruling coalition without a majority in Parliament.
With the dissolution, Renzi, who is a senator, responds to threats he had made in recent weeks in an attack against the current Prime Minister, leader of the coalition which includes the center-left anti-system movement, the Democratic Party. (PD), the center-left and the Free and equal, to the left.
The agreement was signed at the end of 2019, after months of political crisis in the country. Other members criticized Renzi’s departure and said his move would hurt Italy, mired in the worst post-war recession and with the second worst Covid toll across Europe, behind France.
Nicola Zingaretti, leader of the Democratic Party, called the breach a “serious mistake” which “goes against the best interests of the country”.
Dealing with the pandemic is the main cause of disagreements between the former prime minister and the current one. Renzi criticized Conte for his management of the health crisis and the plan to use the more than 200 billion euros granted by the European Union to recover the Union’s savings.
He says the plan is centralized in Conte, with little power of participation from other coalition parties.
“We will not allow anyone in Italy to have full powers. This means that governing with decree-laws, which in turn become other decree-laws, as has been happening for months, is a violation of the rules of government. game. We demand respect for democratic rules, ”Renzi said.
The stimulus package was approved by cabinet on Tuesday evening (12), but it still needs parliamentary approval.
In an interview with an Italian news network, the leader of Italia Viva said that the final version was already “one step ahead”. He also pledged not to block approval of the plan so as not to delay the arrival of European funds.
However, now the pressure on Conte, he raised further complaints and insisted that Italy should apply for a loan from the euro area rescue fund, known as the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). , to help its health service.
So far, no country has shown interest and borrowed from the ESM, fearing to increase its debts.
With the move, Renzi was accused of playing politics in an attempt to revive his small party that fails in the polls – Italia Viva is a Democratic Party dissident and won just 3% of the vote in the 2018 parliamentary elections.
Ahead of Wednesday’s announcement, Conte made a final appeal to Renzi to stay in the coalition, saying he was convinced that government unity could be restored if there was goodwill on all sides.
“It seemed clear that Renzi wanted to get rid of Conte and was looking for a reason to justify it,” said Lorenzo Pregliasco, of research and policy analysis firm YouTrend. “This crisis is not about politics, but Renzi’s efforts for a new government that gives him more political weight.”
Renzi says he’s acting for the good of the country, but most Italians don’t believe his words. In an Ipsos poll released on Tuesday (12), 73% of voters said he was pursuing his own interests and 13% said he was pursuing them in the country.
Even so, Renzi has left open the possibility of returning to cabinet if his demands for political reform and greater accountability are implemented.
“Can a new government be formed? We have no veto over anyone, no prejudice, nor do we pretend to tell the prime minister what to do,” the former prime minister said, after ruling out any form alliance with the far right of former minister Matteo Salvini. .
After the cabinet ministers withdrew, the opposition bloc called on the prime minister to resign.
In a joint statement, Italy’s far-right coalition Liga, Salvini, Italy’s ultra-nationalist brothers and conservative Forza, said the best way to ensure a stable government would be early elections.
It is unclear what the Prime Minister and his remaining allies must do next.
One possible scenario would be to try to renegotiate a new pact with Italia Viva, which would almost certainly pave the way for a major overhaul of the firm, with or without Conte at the helm.
If the coalition fails to agree on a way forward, President Sergio Mattarella could try to form a government of national unity to deal with the health emergency.
If that failed, the only option would be a national vote.