It’s showdown time for the Conte 2 Cabinet

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A long weekend awaits us before the showdown on Monday and Tuesday, when Parliament will be called to a confidence vote on the statements of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte after the opening of the government crisis triggered by Renzi’s exit from the ruling coalition. The premier has ruled out wanting to surrender without a fight and will involve the Chambers with a decisive vote for the future of his executive.

In the meantime, this sort of psycho-war continues with the hunt by the M5S and PD for some “responsible” MPs to replace the votes of Italia Viva in Parliament. Especially in Palazzo Madama, where the 18 senators from the group of the former Florence mayor embody a formidable blackmail power over the future of the M5S-PD ruling coalition. For this reason, in the premier’s calculations, Italia Viva’s MPs must be neutralized at all costs: the former allies seem in fact willing to definitively close with Renzi, consequently putting out of play also the solution of a Cabinet reshuffle that all things considered could have represented the easiest way out of the crisis.

Waiting for the parties to take note of the fact that perhaps, at present, there are no power balances other than those of the outgoing ruling majority, the hypothesis of an M5S-PD-LEU alliance backed by the “responsible” MPs takes off.  Notwithstanding the Head of State’s worries about governments that survive only thanks to the votes of a few but well positioned “defectors”, and without wishing to consider its implication for the control of some of the most important parliamentary committees. Furthermore, should it succeed (the majority must draw at least 11 senators from the opposition), it would be difficult to deny that this experiment did not somehow resurrect a certain type of management of parliamentary balances of power that was quite widespread at the time of Italy’s often criticized First Republic. And it is perhaps also for this reason that among the ranks of the 5-Stars there are those who are already working to ensure that the boarding of those “responsible” MPs does not coincide with a further watering down of the already washed-out M5S political programs.

Thus, for the moment, all the other potential ways out of the puzzle take second place. Starting with the change of prime minister to preserve the same ruling coalition. A very difficult option to digest especially for the M5S, perfectly aware that Conte remains the only leader capable of avoiding the pulverization of its parliamentary groups and averting the feared haemorrhage of votes and elected. At this stage, the Democratic Party also recognizes the tactical centrality of the head of government to uphold the current majority, despite of the many criticisms addressed to him and the missteps he collected especially in the last four months.

In the background remains the solution of the technical government, the ultima ratio regum before returning to polls that could only be activated in the face of the complete failure of any attempt to put together the pieces of the current ruling majority. The Head of State Sergio Mattarella could use it by calling at Palazzo Chigi a super partes figure capable of gathering consensus in most of the parliamentary arc (therefore not Conte) in order to avoid the traumatic end of the legislature. Early elections scenario is in fact the least likely and at the same time the most feared.

For the implications related to restarting the electoral machine in full pandemic, as well as for the self-preservation instinct of the many MPs (over half of the current elected officials) who could not return to the Chambers due to the referendum approved in September. After all, seen from the eyes of the current M5S-PD coalition, early voting would risk handing Parliament and with it the government of Italy to the center-right opposition.