“The government goes on”

After the summer break, Prime Minister Mario Draghi spoke at a press conference bringing media attention back to the executive’s upcoming initiatives and to secure his coalition on the eve of a season full of important junctions on which the future of the country and the success of its expected modernization depend. This autumn, for example, will bring with it crucial reforms such as those on public administration, procurement, taxation and social security.

In early August the silences of the premier and the beginning of the ‘white semester’ had revamped Italian parties’ quest for visibility, prompting their leadership to duel verbally for electoral reasons. In fact, the latest polls on the voting intentions of Italians indicate a substantial flattening in the approval rating of the top three parties – respectively FdI, Lega and PD, nailed for several months at about 20% and with the M5S fourth at 16%. Hence their common need to gain visibility in the eyes of electors with heated interventions in public discourse.

Draghi’s press conference, on the other hand, brought politics back down to earth, highlighting how the prime minister continues to place himself well above the lively dialectic of his ruling coalition. Very clear-cut positions in favor of mandatory vaccination and the administration of the third dose demonstrate his strength as a leader and clarify the actual hierarchical relationship that exists vis-à-vis the leaders of his majority. An outcome that is not at all obvious for a country whose institutional history is full of the memory of weak governments often at the mercy of parties’ everchanging moods.

Moreover, Draghi can claim the now near target of 80% vaccinated people, set for the end of September, and an economy back to running above expectations thanks to a GDP growth of over 6%. Tremendously tangible results for an Italy that craves more than anything else for a return to normalcy after two years of living under the banner of the pandemic emergency and the repeated announcements of its ruling class. Even the call to the duty to welcome Afghan political refugees is a very clear and above all courageous stance on a divisive issue such as immigration has always been.

Furthermore, his words come the day after the vote in which the Lega, one of Draghi’s main coalition partner, rejected the green certificate in the Covid decree being discussed in the lower house, sparking the furious reaction of the PD and M5S. And follow by a few days League secretary Matteo Salvini latest attacks against Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, who was accused of not doing enough to stop migration flows to Italy. For Draghi the post of Interior Ministry is not up for discussion and the establishment of a new control room is an excellent expedient to vent political tensions in ruling majority. Moreover, the public recognition of Salvini’s leadership in the League is an indirect message for those – starting with Enrico Letta and Giuseppe Conte – had theorized the League’s self-exclusion from the majority after the vote in the Commission.

Overall Draghi took the opportunity represented by the press conference at the beginning of September also to chart the government’s course until next year, being aware of having to shield the executive from the foreseeable repercussions of delicate electoral events such as the local elections in October and above all the approach to the vote for the new head of state scheduled in February 2022. His vented passage to the Quirinale is in fact the great unknown destined to shake the Italian political scene more than any other in the coming months.