Nicola Zingaretti resigned from his post as secretary of the Democratic Party (PD) after days of infightings and attacks against his leadership. He did so by surprise to confuse his internal detractors. And pressing frontally his fellow PD colleagues who spoke only about posts despite the dramatic reality of the country. To the point of distancing himself from a party led for exactly two years after the victory in the 2019 primary elections, which closed what until then had been the very long but ultimately fruitless Renzi-led season.
Zingaretti was the tenth secretary in the 14-year long history of the Democratic Party, although probably one of the weakest among those who succeeded at the head of the main center-left force of Italy. He has never controlled the parliamentary groups, which were nominated by Renzi; he himself is not a MP, but the president of the Lazio Region; he has never been able to solve a terrible problem for the PD such as the absence of an efficient internal organization. The Democratic Party has in fact confirmed itself as an “unsuccessful amalgamation” of many groups and tribes perpetually competing with each other. A simply ungovernable federation of internal factions.
The step back announced by Zingaretti is the sublimation of an authentic and in many ways disastrous political crisis. It was no coincidence that it exploded after the birth of the Draghi government, exactly what happened also to the M5S. Still, the anti-establishment Movement was able to quickly solve its leadership problem by playing Giuseppe Conte’s card. To at least give itself a prospect of political revival.
The next few days will clarify the reaction capabilities of the PD, which at this point seem to have completely exhausted its driving force just when it could run for the noble role of pillar-party of the executive led by the former president of the ECB. According to critics, it is the consequence of the absence of a strategic plan that is different from self-preservation in power. For those born with a clear majority vocation, the price of the ideological and cultural void on which the current alliance with the M5S is based has obviously been too high.
While waiting for news on the future of the leadership of the Democratic Party, at least three fundamental issues remain on the table. Starting with the actual meaning of Zingaretti’s move. Was it a real resignation or was it just a scenic move? Perhaps designed to reunite the party in view of the national assembly of 13-14 March and lay the foundations for his own re-election by acclamation, without having to expose himself to the threat of the congress. A way to stay in the saddle, therefore, but avoiding the harshness of the internal political debate. With the serious risk, however, of further undermining his already shaken political credibility in the eyes of those who might see the initiative as a Machiavellian expedient aimed at preserving his post.
Then comes the issue of the consequences of his resignation on the project of an electoral alliance with the M5S. The recent past teaches that the Zingaretti-led PD has never won the elections when allied with the 5-Stars (Umbria, Marche and Liguria), while it has been able to impose itself brilliantly (Emilia-Romagna, Campania, Tuscany and Puglia) on the occasions when it tried to convince the voters of other parties. Historia magistra vitae?
Lastly, finally, there is a delicate issue such as that of the upcoming municipal elections in Rome. Zingaretti’s candidacy is the forbidden dream of his many Roman supporters, even if the gossips whisper that the hypothesis was artfully circulated by the most hostile PD opposers to repay him for the surprise resignation. Zingaretti disavowed the suggestion with annoyance, but we know that politics is the art of the impossible. What is certain is that the announcement of his resignation came on the day the elections were officially postponed from June to autumn. A time frame that guarantees parties a few more months to implement wide-ranging political manoeuvres. Such as, for example, the replacement of Gualtieri with Zingaretti as the official PD candidate, to force M5S’ Raggi to step back and launch the joint assault on the Capitol.