The Game of Thrones of politics, from Rome to Brussels

The week’s political agenda was punctuated by the European Council on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, around which hinged discussions in the House and Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday to approve the government’s resolution on Italy’s position. Discussions that were also the enclosure within which the parliamentary split of the 5 Star Movement took place, with the exit of Luigi Di Maio and the creation of the new parliamentary group “Insieme per il futuro”.

News from Brussels confirms the official candidacy of Ukraine, as well as Moldova, for EU membership. All quite predictable and politically a very important achievement for Zelensky. But leafing through the documents prepared by the European Council well, the important findings are quite different. First, a commitment to exceptional new macrofinancial assistance to Kiev of up to nine billion euros in 2022 was approved. Added to this is the imminent increase in military support to exercise the right of self-defense against Russian aggression. A point that even Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in an interview with Corriere della Sera confirmed as crucial in order to steer negotiations. The mantra, also supported by the United States, is always the same: without military victory there can be no serious diplomatic negotiations. And even Europe now seems to be convinced of this.

On the issue of the gas price ceiling, Prime Minister Mario Draghi expected an acceleration by the European Council, which was not there. It will be discussed again in the future. As for the process of Ukraine’s, and Moldova’s, accession to the EU, as mentioned, the approval of the application was rather predictable already looking at the orientation of the European Parliament, which endorsed it with 529 votes in favor and only 45 against and 14 abstentions. What was not as predictable, however, was the controversy triggered by the Balkan countries, North Macedonia and Albania, which already have candidate status but whose entry process was bogged down by the Bulgarian veto. Albanian President Edi Rama’s protest, made public on Twitter, was rather high-sounding: “We are here, but still as guests, in a divided room. I feel sorry for Ukraine, I hope we can help it. Albania got candidate status eight years ago, North Macedonia 17 years ago. I hope Ukrainian citizens will not have too many illusions”.

Mario Draghi took his place among the 27 European leaders calmed after the 5Stelle split, which had initially raised fears for the tightness of the majority. Crisis recessed. Giuseppe Conte and his grillini “patriots” have pledged support for the government, but in the meantime a heterogeneous, cross-center area is taking shape, which for the time being will be the bulwark of Draghi to ward off any and all potential parliamentary crises. But what is being experienced now in Parliament could be the prelude to the emergence of a grand center ahead of the 2023 elections, a formation that gathers not only the “dimaiani” but also that area that for now is raking in support from Carlo Calenda, Giovanni Toti, Mara Carfagna, Luigi Brugnaro and Matteo Renzi himself. It was a frenetic movement, triggered by a political move that revealed Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio’s skill in timing and manner: immediately after Conte backtracked on the government’s foreign policy and pledged his support for Draghi. He then went up to the Quirinale to explain to Mattarella the reasons and causes of a now irremediable rift. An earthquake, in short, neutralizing, however, any shake-up of the government at a very delicate moment.

The many accessions in just a few hours to the new group showed that the move had already been studied at the table. But accelerating them was also the issue of money: many of the defectors were not up to date with their returns to the Movement of part of their salaries. By joining the new group, those in arrears will not only no longer be subject to the payment of the “annoying gabelle”, but will see the forfeiture of the arrears they had accrued. On the right too there has been increased movement in recent days, especially within the Lega. Giancarlo Giorgetti’s plan to recreate a party that is an expression of the North, stripped of sovereigntist ideology and well-anchored in the business and industrial fabric, is still vague but concrete.

The Game of Thrones of Italian politics has begun, predictably, one year before the general elections scheduled for 2023. The path is very long and, based on these premises, full of pitfalls.


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