The leader of Italia Viva threatens to break the coalition in the middle of the debate on the destination of European funds
The Government of Italy, led by Giuseppe Conte and shared in three ways between the 5-Star Movement (M5S), Democratic Party (PD) and Italia Viva, is reeling from the constant pressure of the leader of this last formation, Matteo Renzi, who has threatened with breaking the agreement due to discrepancies over the management of European recovery funds.
Italy is responsible for about 200,000 million euros of the plan launched from the EU to help different countries alleviate the collateral effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The disbursement is pending approval by the Government, which plans to give it the green light this Tuesday at the last minute.
Italia Viva currently has two female ministers, whose continuity in the cabinet is pending whether or not the final rupture of the coalition takes place. The media speculate with a gesture by Renzi that it could come after the Council of Ministers.
The former prime minister, in a text on his blog, has once again recriminated this Tuesday that Conte has ignored his proposals in recent weeks and has criticized the “insults” against his party, which he especially regrets for proceeding some of them from fellow theorists.
Renzi has avoided publicly acknowledging that he wants a change of government, instead insisting on the need to manage the pandemic response and relief funds well. “Either we spend it well or they spend it without us,” he has sentenced in an interview with the RTL station, according to the Adnkronos agency.
Therefore, the continuity of the Minister of Agriculture, Teresa Bellanova, and that of Family, Elena Bonetti, remains in the air. Bellanova has avoided confirming this Tuesday her possible departure from the Executive, defending the need to go “step by step.”
Renzi’s party has just 3 percent in voting intention polls, but his support is key for Conte to retain the current parliamentary majority. The electoral advance is one of the options that are considered in the event of a crisis, from which a new Conte Executive could also come out – it would already be the third after the M5S experiment with Matteo Salvini’s League – or with a technocratic cabinet.
The Democratic Party, the second with the most weight within the current Administration, considers that taking the polls again would be a disaster for the country at a time like the present. In the words of its leader, Nicola Zingareti, “it would be a serious political error that would penalize Italy, a tunnel with no way out”, without considering that it could mean the return to power of the center-right.
The Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, also sees “inexplicable” that there is now a government crisis, insofar as he considers that it would be to the detriment of Italians, and has defended Conte as a “pivot” of the amalgamation of interests that converge in the tripartite. Thus, he has promised to be “loyal” to the prime minister and has considered the attacks against him “unfair”.
Di Maio has also regretted that the name of the former president of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi is speculated as the leader of a hypothetical technocratic government, noting that he “does not deserve” that his name ends up being the subject of political debates.
THE FUND OF THE DEBATE
The last point of friction between Conte and Renzi has to do with the substance and form of the EU aid plan, which contemplates 32,000 million euros in investments in infrastructure, 69,000 million in ecological transformation and 19,700 million in health, according to the document analyzed by Bloomberg.
The text reflects some concessions to Renzi, mainly in health matters, but Italia Viva would have raised with the prime minister the need to share more power, speed up public works projects and renounce control of the secret services.
Ultimately, the president of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, will again act as arbitrator of this dispute, since it is up to him to entrust a specific candidate with the formation of the Government. Despite having a more ceremonial than political position, it would not be the first time that Mattarella has assumed a relevant role.
The head of state has already asked Renzi to at least guarantee parliamentary approval of the recovery plan before unleashing any political earthquake in Italy. This support, however, could be done from outside the Government, with a form of external support.