Draghi's Government - An End to Populism in Italy

Published on 4 February 2021 at 13:16

The governmental disarray in which Italy has recently found itself is, to say the least, disconcerting. Having to deal with the corona virus crisis was far from being the only issue at hand in the governance of Italy, in the last months.


One would think having the sixth highest death toll in the world caused by Covid would suffice, but no. Coalitions have succeeded one other as political bombshells quickly followed. 


Over the last 20 days, the situation escalated. The ex-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, former member of the government coalition, surprised Italy when he decided to leave the previous government, formed during Covid, after complicated elections. He therefore weakened Giuseppe Conte’s political legitimacy, the then Prime Minister, leaving him with a dodgy government, without an absolute majority in the Senate.



What happened next was fairly predictable: Conte’s government collapsed altogether. As per usual, Italian politicians had to quickly come up with an alternative. Sergio Mattarella, the President of the Italian Republic, seeing Roberto Fico, president of the Italian chamber of deputies, was struggling to provide a solution, promptly suggested Mario Draghi.


This time, the alternative is no other than an immensely experienced, perfectly well read and quite distinguished gentleman. This man probably knows more about diplomacy then all of his predecessors. Having such influence and power as he did during his presidency of the ECB, he definitely would have the “leadership” needed for the job.


Most importantly, Draghi has a clear understanding of the European economic and financial reality. He would know his way around inefficient Italian policies. Also, to everybody’s relief, he made a speech that gave hope to a frightened Italy. He is to form a new government. Let’s hope this one lasts... 


As the new Prime Minister is willing to tackle the health crisis, he transparently cites the immediate issues at hand. I quote: “ To win the pandemic, to complete the vaccine campaign, to offer answers to daily problems, to relaunch the country, are the challenges that stand before us.” He referred to the parliament as the expression of the people’s will and called for unity among parliamentary groups. Here is a man who seeks stability.


With a glimpse of hope he goes on to say: “We have at our disposal the European Union’s extraordinary resources, we have the opportunity to do much for our country, with a careful look to the future of new generations and to the reinforcing of social cohesion.” 


He refers to the crucial role the European Union will play in getting Italy back on its feet. He is suggesting the immense financial aid planned ahead. That couldn’t be truer. However, it is all very ironic, considering that a while ago most members of the coalition were populist politicians, encouraging Italy to leave the EU altogether. 


Looking back, Italy had been falling deeper and deeper into populism over the last 5 years. The five-star movement, led by Luigi Di Maio, was an anti-immigration and anti-EU party. It previously formed part of a governmental coalition. The same goes for the Lega Nord party, led by Matteo Salvini, advocating a segregation between northern and southern Italy for “economic purposes”. The latter equally formed part of a previous government coalition. 


Giuseppe Conte’s arrival, albeit unexpected, appeared as relief, considering for once a lawyer was leading the country. If readers remain unaware of the atrocities pronounced by certain members of the Italian government, ignorant about the Italian Constitution, it is for the best. 


Unfortunately, Conte didn’t have the right “tools” some say. In his defense, he came possibly at the worse time ever and did what he could. 


Even parties like Italia Viva lead by Matteo Renzi, which had attempted to reverse the trend with an anti-fascist ideology, ended up serving Renzi’s personal agenda once a respective government was formed. An absolute lack of support from Italians at a referendum “forced” him to leave. Through that referendum he hoped to establish himself as a recognised “leader”.


More trivial anecdotes reveal the ever-growing importance of populism, in the Italian political landscape. Brothers of Italy lead by Giorgia Meloni was made fun of by the LBTQ+ community, which inadvertently enhanced the popularity of Meloni through a buzz song made out of a remix of her anti-gay speeches.


Similarly, Renzi has been made fun of, all over social media, for his, less than accurate English accent, when he talked about the UK leaving the EU referring to a: “first reaction shock”. Then one thinks of Forza Italia, the party of the immortal Silvio Berlusconi, whose only achievement was to consistently stay on top of such ministerial turbulence by never completely disappearing from the radar. 


Let’s face it: Italian politics lately have been a little ridiculous, sadly it’s almost entertaining. 


Let’s hope for the best from a liberalist banking expert, known worldwide as an influential figure, with important acquaintances, and praised for his globalized perception of the world. In any case, this technocrat with a degree from Boston wouldn’t make Italians look like fools when it comes to foreign relations.


With a democratic leadership, Italy could be saved from populism, from a vicious circle that gets fed by recurring ministerial crises. That being said, Draghi still needs a parliamentary majority. The five-star movement certainly won’t go easy on him. However, support from an old fox like Berlusconi will probably help.

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