Mario Draghi responded to rumours about the replacement of Health Minister Roberto Speranza by placing him at his side in the press conference on Friday 16 April on the latest government measures against the coronavirus crisis.
A clear message aimed at defending the minister at a difficult time and despite the fact that it had already been the Prime Minister himself, previously, who publicly declared that he wanted him in his executive. Speranza was among the few who did not lose his post after the end of Count II Cabinet, thanks to the fact that he had became one of the most popular leaders in Italy in light of the top role he played in the battle against Covid-19.
In recent weeks, however, the pressure on the reopening and the difficulties encountered by the vaccination campaign had ended up putting in the crosshairs a minister who has always stood out for the line of rigor, offering more than one argument to supporters of a change of pace in Italy’s anti-pandemic strategy. Starting with the center-right parties.
The last bolt from the blue on the tenant of the Health Ministry fell at the beginning of the week with the rumours of Il Messaggero newspaper on the intention of the Prime Minister to persuade him to leave office to accept a “promotion” in the EU or in another international body. According to the reconstructions of the Roman daily, Draghi’s public appreciation would have been functional in guaranteeing him a dignified exit without causing painful fractures in his composite parliamentary majority.
More specifically, the current secretary of Article One would have paid the month of delay with which it was decided to extend the time of the second dose, together with the excessive caution in drafting the protocols of the reopening and above all the deepening of the investigation by the Bergamo Public Prosecutor’s Office on the WHO-Ranieri Guerra case, the former director general of the Ministry of Health.
According to other reconstructions, it was precisely the story of the disappearance of the national pandemic plan that most irritated the tenant of Palazzo Chigi, taking into account the predictable political implications associated with the various responsibilities on choices such as the lack of a red zone in the Bergamo area at the beginning of the crisis.
To feed the thesis of the backgrounders, then, the fact that in the previous weeks the premier had almost entirely replaced the team to which the previous M5S-Pd government had entrusted for the management of the emergency and of which Speranza was the last member.
The presence of the minister alongside the premier at the last press conference seems instead to be a clear proof of the trust placed in him by Draghi, as well as a confirmation of the fallacy of certain press reconstructions. At the same time, however, the story offers some food for thought of a political nature.
Speranza constitutes an important link between the former prime minister and current “re-founder” of the M5S, Giuseppe Conte, and the new secretary of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, who, not surprisingly, was among the first to defend his work against the Lega, Forza Italia and Brothers of Italy parties. The participation of the party of the current Health Minister in the perspective of a future alliance between the PD and the 5-Star appears in fact essential to have any chance of electoral success against the united center-right.
At the same time, the “Speranza case” reveals all the peculiarities of the political moment in which the old adversaries of the Conte II government find themselves. Especially since Lega and Forza Italia left the opposition benches to join the Draghi majority. Emblematic, for example, is the case of the promised no-confidence motion against the minister by the party of Giorgia Meloni, to hold onto the role of the only opposition to the government and to put in difficulty the ally-opponent Matteo Salvini with a view to future competition in the right-wing electorate.
The League promptly nipped in the face of the Brothers of Italy proposal, with all due respect to the fierce criticism addressed to Speranza in the past weeks and months. In addition to the reasons of political expediency related to the entry in the ruling coalition, this week’s request for unity by the Prime Minister himself on the eve of a crucial phase for the future of our country might have played a decisive role. A sort of call to arms in the name of a higher good – securing and relaunching Italy, devastated by the virus – in which the usual quarrels between parties cannot and must not find a place.