A few hours ago opened the tenth edition of the Leopolda, the well-known kermesse hosted in the large hangar of the Florentine station of the same name, elevated for the occasion to the rank of cathedral of Matteo Renzi’s civic religion. There is no trace in Italy of political events with the same personalistic connotations, capable of surviving the passage of time unscathed and perpetuating itself almost unchanged despite its leader’s different political and institutional roles. Nowadays the Leopolda has taken on the characteristics of the collective ritual, a mass celebration designed to repeat in cycles the very same liturgy for use and consumption of followers and simple observers.
For Matteo Renzi this means reaffirming the pre-eminence of his political leadership, regardless of the party he belongs to or the fact that he is in government (as in 2014) or to the opposition (as in 2013 and again in 2018). Above all, that of 2019 is the fist edition in which the former mayor of Florence will be able to take the Leopolda stage completely free of any constraints of any sort towards the Democratic Party (PD): a peculiarity that, by the sound of things, does not create embarrassment, but rather seems to dissolve both parts from a misunderstanding that dragged out perhaps for too long. For Renzi there is now to prepare his repositioning within the political arena: both with respect to the government that he himself has resolutely promoted, as well as towards the Italian electorate.
Proof of this is also traceable in the TV duel against Matteo Salvini that took place on Tuesday, when the leader of Italia Viva addressed directly the vast audience of moderate center-right and center-left voters, which in this phase are orphans of credible political alternatives and therefore potentially attracted by the new centrist creature of Matteo Renzi. Therefore, the stage of the Leopolda is going to represent the ideal megaphone through which sending messages to the electorate of tomorrow. Objective: to reap Berlusconi’s moderate political legacy without having to come to terms with his Forza Italia party, but instead betting on popular key words between his supporters such as tax cuts, fight against bureaucracy and wastes and no to justicialism.
The chances to come into collision with Nicola Zingaretti’s PD appear rather elevated: battles such as that for the separation of careers between judges and prosecutors or for the review of the pension age criteria introduced by the M5S-League administration have in fact the potential to shatter the PD’s very foundations. Still, the strategic menace represented by the dynamism of Renzi’s Italia Viva could be also a great opportunity for the PD itself, which is called upon to decide once and for all what to do with its future now that Renzi has left the party.
Born with the ambition of becoming a stronger player within a majority electoral system, capable of overcoming its original post-communist and post-Christian Democratic traditions, over time the Democratic Party has ended up disappointing almost all expectations, taking care only of defending its own party identity. In absence of decisive and immediate changes of direction, the risk is to continue playing the role of the junior partner in a M5S-led coalition.