Draghi’s Justice reform reignites the row between politics and judiciary

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On July 22 the Italian Cabinet gave the green light to proceed with the confidence vote in order to approve the Justice reform of minister Marta Cartabia, as requested by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. A gesture, the latter, full of political significance.

The reform issue has been under the spotlight this week, which was opened by the meeting between the head of government and the new M5S political leader – Giuseppe Conte – and then was marked by the emergence of 5-Stars’ resistances against a measure that can wipe up what was achieved years ago by former M5S Justice minister Alfonso Bonafede.

The Cartabia reform will arrive in Parliament on July 30. For Draghi, the reason for the confidence vote lies in the need to respect the commitment made to the European institutions – which is the precondition for enjoying the harvest of billions destined to Italy under the EU recovery plan. It is good to never lose sight of the context within which the current government reforms unfold and the implications of any delays in their approval process.

For this reason, the premier granted the M5S only a few “technical” changes, as long as they are shared with the rest of the ruling coalition and without distorting the structure of the bill written by Cartabia. After that, the confidence vote will automatically drop the more than 900 amendments tabled by the M5S in order to modify it. A quite paradoxical stance the one adopted by 5-Stars MPs when compared to the go-ahead given by party ministers sitting in the government.

The point is that Draghi has no intention of giving up the initiative to those who hoped to bury the reform by drawing it into the quicksand of the white semester that opens on August 3. As well as exposing the agenda of its executive to the tactic of attrition and blackmail adopted by political forces still in crisis of ideas and with uncertain leaderships.

Hence – in addition to the request for a confidence vote – peremptory clarifications such as that on not seeking “pockets of impunity” but “rapid trials and all the guilty punished”. Or the intention to go all the way by resorting if necessary to a “ruling coalition with variable geometries”, aware of not being able to enjoy all time the support of all the parties present in Parliament. All the more so on a divisive issue such as justice.

Meanwhile, the High Council of the Judiciary (CSM) reacted against the provision on unprocedibility presented within the reform, which overall managed to recompose in record time the world of Italian magistrates which was otherwise torn inside. A news of some significance because it was since the days of the Berlusconi governments that there have not been such tense relations between the CSM and a Minister of Justice.

It will be useful to spend a few words on this point. For many years we had been told that in Italy there was no real conflict between politics and the judiciary, but that it only concerned some more or less virtuous and misguided agglomerations of these two pillars of our Republic (the reader has the right to associate nouns with adjectives as he sees fit).

Now, on the contrary, a justice reform that is unanimously approved in the CDM by all ministers – who are in turn the expression of a majority never seen before in Parliament – is lashed by legal criticism and for its operational effects from the magistrates. With the result of blowing up the institutional tension with the government and indicating that, after all, a problem with politics existed regardless of the color of its interpreters.

The fact is that one of the peculiarities of the new course inaugurated by Mario Draghi – indeed, it is probably the most important – is that a Prime Minister sits in Palazzo Chigi who is not afraid to take responsibility for his political decisions. Aware that mediation, listening and confrontation are the salt of democracy, as long as we do not make it a practice that feeds itself, producing immobility and ending up suffocating the country under the vetoes of its infinite centers of interest.