Third day of formal consultations on Italy’s government crisis

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This afternoon the delegations of the center-right parties (Lega, Fratelli d’Italia and Forza Italia) and the M5S closed the first round of consultations at the Quirinale Palace with President Sergio Mattarella. At stake there is to agree on a new government for Italy after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who quit after having failed to expand the perimeter of his ruling coalition following the exit of Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva.

Now Mattarella is asking Italian parties for a quick solution to the crisis, obviously in light of the very difficult socio-economic moment that is gripping the country and the growing difficulties in managing the vaccination campaign. And it is for this very reason that the Head of State has been sceptical about the hypothesis of strengthening Conte’s parliamentary majority attracting so-called responsible lawmakers from centrist and opposition groups. In fact, the Quirinale wants the parties to find a shared solution in the name of long-term governability.

It will not be easy to put the pieces of the puzzle back together and the crisis, as per tradition, promises to prove to be particularly difficult. The different forces that made up the Conte II coalition, naturally without Italia Viva and with the new entry of the Europeanist group at the Senate, have agreed again on the name of Giuseppe Conte. A solution that for the moment must come to terms with Renzi’s unwillingness to back his old premier.

This puts the M5S and PD in front of a crossroads: to close definitively with the former Florence mayor, as many 5-Stars demand (but that would mean giving up to his 18 senators, who remain fundamental for the ruling coalition’s stability in the Senate) or take time to negotiate the conditions for his return. A very hard hypothesis to digest for those who affirmed “never again with Renzi” and that would return Italia Viva with the same blackmail power against the premier that has been exercised without hesitation since December.

Renzi was the only leader of the former majority not to officially express himself in favor of a Conte 3 Cabinet, proposing instead to President Mattarella to assign an “exploratory mandate” to a figure other than the former prime minister in order to test the ground and prepare for peace among opponents. From Renzi’s point of view, Conte is part of the current row and therefore unsuitable for being the peacemaker. Not to mention the fact that he has not yet managed to set up his own alternative majority in the Senate.

The names circulating for the role of “explorer” are those of the President of the Chamber of Deputies Roberto Fico and, in the alternative, the Minister of the Interior Luciana Lamorgese. Fico tried to carry out the negotiations for an M5S-PD government already after the 2018 elections, while Lamorgese could be the super partes technician capable of reassuring the duellists. In any case, Renzi would have already set out the conditions for his return in the majority: in addition to the replacement of three key ministers (Finance, Justice and School), the political recognition of Italia Viva’s role in the ruling coalition.

The road, as we said, is therefore particularly narrow. And it is also for this reason that, pending news from the center-left area, the track leading to the full involvement of opposition Forza Italia party in a new executive remains frozen but not forgotten. It is the scenario of the “Ursula majority”, from the name chosen to define the group of political parties that a year and a half ago voted Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen for the presidency of the European Commission. A big step forward towards Silvio Berlusconi by the current majority forces would be needed to achieve it. A plausible hypothesis from the point of view of the Democratic Party but almost indigestible for the M5S, which risks suffering harsh infightings. At the same time, it would be the only way to defuse Renzi of his blackmail power once and for all.