A non-partisan PM might be what Italy needs

by Tommaso Venditti

We are dealing with major changes in the Italian political landscape nowadays. Last week Giuseppe Conte presented his resignation and we now have a new Prime Minister in Mario Draghi. However, this change should not have come as any surprise to those who have been following the political situation.

In fact, Conte’s government had already been proved to be very weak in recent months for the simple numerical reason that it struggled to retain a majority. It struggled to impose itself in the two Chambers, particularly in the Senate where the right-centre coalition had almost as many members as “red-and-yellow alliance”. Any form of artificial alliance in politics is not likely to survive, and so it has proved for Conte’s government – which was since its creation as an unpopular and unelected government with its single uniting purpose being to prevent Matteo Salvini having power.

In any case, the real boost leading to everything has been one man rather than any fact, Matteo Renzi. His “Italia Viva” had been part of Conte’s majority. Acknowledging the increasingly poor influence and popularity of the Conte government and being likely to get a higher share in the next election – he had a rough 3 per cent boost until last week and perhaps he still has – Renzi’s two ministers, Bellanova and Bonetti, resigned starting the political crisis.

Despite this sudden turn, Conte took some time to present his resignation to the President of The Republic Sergio Mattarella. He did not have much choice but to give up his role as Prime Minister due to the loss of Renzi’s support. However, he initially tried to buy time by entrusting the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Roberto Fico, with a so called “exploratory mandate” with the aim of recreating the just-broken alliance between the parties that had made up the majority coalition. Unsurprisingly, Fico failed to achieve this as the members of “Italia Viva” were still reluctant to mend the rift. Therefore, Conte was forced to do what he should have done as soon as “Italia Viva” left the coalition.

Unfortunately for him, this time it is different. The crisis has no external event that, in other circumstances, would have allowed Conte to present itself to Italians as Italy’s saviour from the influence of Salvini and Giorgia Meloni, leader of Fratelli d’Italia – something that previously propelled him to power.

Draghi, the new PM, is not a very new name in Italian politics; in fact, in the past few months he has been increasingly quoted in newspapers and, for some, this is seen as a miracle that could have never happened. The ex-president of the ECB now has the solemn duty of illuminating the path of Italy through this tough period. His mandate has been conceived with a so-called transitionary mandate, with the objective of hopefully guiding the country towards the next election. In this period, with the ongoing social, economic and pandemic crises, the most important leadership qualities are competency and practicality, and so Draghi may very well be the best option for Italy.

The first challenge of his new mandate – even though it has not officially started yet – is the appointment of his key ministers. If Draghi were able to decide on his own, I expect his top team would be comprised of those with an apolitical background, mostly technocrats. However, as he requires the trust of the major national parties, he has been forced to include politicians as well.

The new government will be drawn from across the political spectrum. So far, the majority of all parties have expressed their support for the formation of the new government. “Fratelli d’Italia” its the main outlier, with Meloni stating that the party will only be collaborating with Draghi provided that his reforms are beneficial for the country. 

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