Mario Draghi: Italy: the scorpion crisis | Opinion

In order to limit political instability and deal with the pandemic and the economic crisis, but also to seize the opportunity of the massive Next Generation EU recovery fund, in February 2021 the President of the Italian Republic asked Mario Draghi to head a Government of national unity, which was only avoided by Giorgia Meloni’s extreme right group Brothers of Italy.

However, the local elections in May signaled a strong electoral setback for both the League and the 5-Star Movement. The two parties, which grew up on a populist and anti-system message, have suffered from the support they gave to the former president of the European Central Bank, considered until recently as the origin of all evil. The League has lost support in favor of Brothers of Italy, which in the polls has become the first Italian party; the 5 Star Movement, on the other hand, has ceded them to abstention. A few months before the natural end of the legislature —March 2023—, both parties have begun to distance themselves from the embrace of the Draghi government, which blurred his identity and tarnished his message of protest. The 5-Star Movement paid a price, as there was a split between the pro-government wing of Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and the opposition wing led by Giuseppe Conte.

In fact, the 5 Star Movement opened the crisis and the League has closed it, taking advantage of the occasion to go back to the elections. Indeed, on July 14, the 5-Star Movement did not vote on the approval requested by the Government of a decree that, along with important measures to support families and businesses, also contained a highly criticized measure: the construction of a processing plant of rubbish in Rome, a city that has been overloaded with waste for years. The Prime Minister immediately understood the consequences, and tendered his resignation to the President of the Republic. He turned her down, asking her to return to Parliament to see if a majority was possible.

And that is what happened on Wednesday the 20th. Draghi delivered a decisive speech, vindicating his successes, but also noting the climate of division between the political forces and the goals yet to be achieved. He then drew attention to the strong demand for continuity and political cohesion emanating from the country. In a recent poll, two-thirds of Italians spoke out against early elections. In addition, more than 2,000 mayors and numerous representatives of representative entities and organizations sent the Government an urgent request for continuity to complete the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR).

At the end of his speech, Draghi delivered a message loud and clear. The country does not need a “facade trust”, he affirmed, but the revitalization of “a new, sincere and concrete pact of trust”. In a moment of great intensity, he asked the major parties four times: “Are you ready to rebuild this pact?” They weren’t.

So Draghi has resigned. Italy will hold elections in the fall. Why this crisis? The most remote causes are linked to the presence of a majority of populist political forces, due to the economic decline and the increase in inequality that has lasted for more than 20 years.

On the other hand, the closest causes are related to the opportunity perceived by the center-right coalition (including Meloni) to win easily in early elections, against a center-left coalition (PD + M5E and other formations) torn apart by the crisis. . In fact, the Democratic Party strongly supported the Draghi government and gave it its confidence. The 5 Star Movement, on the other hand, has realized that, presenting itself as part of the national unity government, in March it would face a certain electoral debacle. It is not clear that this defeat will not happen anyway, but who knows if, by returning to the protest style, the 5 Star Movement is able to recover some support.

From the perspective of individual political actors, therefore, everything that is happening is understandable. However, from the collective point of view, these “individual rationalities” produce unwanted effects. An era is reopened in which partisan interest will predominate over national responsibility. Whether a good for Italy derives from this remains to be shown. The populist parties have resumed their work. It is in their nature. As in Aesop’s fable, where the scorpion stings the frog that helps him cross the river, condemning himself to drown.

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