During the week Carlo Bonomi was elected at the head of the Italian employers’ federation Confindustria, announcing the public assembly for September to present the plans for Italy for the next ten and thirty years.
At the time of the fist Conte government, then-president of Assolombarda Bonomi became a tough opponent of the spending policies adopted in wide controversy by the anti-establishment M5S (‘dignity’ decree, basic citizenship income) and far-right League (pensions). Bonomi’s defiant attitude continued in a more nuanced way even more recently, when last summer’s political crisis shifted to the left the center of gravity of the ruling coalition and expelled Salvini from power.
The election on Wednesday 20 May was characterized by the overwhelming victory of Bonomi, who collected 818 votes in favor, none against and only one abstention. The newly elected Confindustria president had the upper hand in the struggle for power within the lobby of the Italian employers thanks to the top role held within Assolombarda during the maximum economic and cultural revitalization experienced by Milan in the last decade, which prevented other candidates from building alternative manifestos as credible as Bonomi’s.
This model was hit in the heart by the shock wave of the coronavirus, an unexpected event that will force Bonomi to recalibrate his narrative from the rhetoric of the ‘demolition man’ to that of the ‘rebuilder’. He will have the task of giving voice to the industry at the time of the worst economic recession since the end of the second world war, as well as during the maximum heeling of Italian parties. From this point of view, Wednesday’s plebiscite indicates that Confindustria is closing ranks around an energetic leader, whose first public appearances denoted a radical change of pace compared to the dull management of the previous president.
The issue of Italian industrial policy must be put at the center of public discussion, defeating the anti-industrial sentiment and the degrowth myth that are shared by large sectors of the national ruling class and public opinion as well. Without having to bind itself to a party referent, but on the contrary betting on the current moment of institutional fragility that characterizes the country to relaunch the role of Confindustria. All the more so when there is a huge game to be played, for the distribution of resources for post-Covid reconstruction. Proof of this is the immediate success obtained on the occasion of the ‘Relaunch decree’, with the conquest of the abolition of the regional production tax – albeit only for a year and for a limited number of companies.
Bonomi has kept for himself the most important powers on Industrial Policies and Europe and also the direction of the influent Study Center, while he will be joined by a team of loyalists, among whom stand out Luigi Gubitosi, CEO of Tim, and Maurizio Stirpe, formerly Confindustria Lazio president and well-integrated into the Italian Football League, with responsibility on Labor and Industrial Relations.
Bonomi’s political activism emerged this week on the occasion of the speech to his associates: politics shall abandon the temptation of the master-State to launch instead a massive public and private investments plan in order to restart Italy once and for all.