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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Italian government on the brink (again): Has Renzi's hour come?

‘Staffetta’ is the most used word in the Italian media these days. It literally means ‘relay’, and it refers to the
possibility of Prime Minister Enrico Letta handing over power to a new coalition government led by Matteo Renzi – the Mayor of Florence who was elected as the new leader of Mr Letta’s centre-left Democratic Party in December.

The two are holding talks in Rome as we write this blog post, ahead of a key party meeting scheduled for tomorrow. Speculation is growing in some Italian papers that Mr Renzi already has a list of ministers in mind.

If the takeover does materialise, as looks increasingly likely if you scan the Italian press, a few points are worth keeping in mind:
  • The change of government would not change the numbers in the Italian parliament, where no party holds a majority in the Senate, the upper chamber. Renzi may be able to muster wider parliamentary support than Letta, but he would still be stuck with a diverse coalition with smaller centrist and centre-right parties – meaning that the difficulties in pushing ahead any significant political and/or economic reform would not evaporate. 
  • The handover of power would happen without an election, something which could backfire in terms of Renzi’s image vis-à-vis the electorate – not least because the Mayor of Florence has been clearly saying that he wasn’t keen on replacing Letta without a vote
  • Therefore, a better option at this point might be to pass a new electoral law quickly and call snap elections. The electoral law currently being discussed is not perfect, but it would make sure that the winning party/coalition would secure a solid majority in both houses of the Italian parliament. It could be done in time for the beginning of Italy’s rotating EU Presidency on 1 July. Indeed, this would mean two months of political paralysis because of the electoral campaign. But despite all the good intentions, Mr Letta’s government has so far hardly delivered on the big reforms it was supposed to implement. Most importantly, at the end of the process Italy would have a government which has actually come out of the polls – rather than negotiations among party leaders.


Anonymous said...

Other than making a difference to the incomes of the people involved does it make any difference at all to Italy's politics?

Anonymous said...

A few notes on your above comment:
- unchanged number in the Italian parliament: MPs do not care because they align with the winner to keep their own seat;
- Mayor of Florence sayings (no replacement without a vote) are irrelevant because just meant for external audience and uncritical party supporters;
-the new electoral law does not solve unconstitutional aspects already set out by the Court but nobody cares in the political arena, apart from getting some specific notional advantage out of forthcoming discussions, because higher up that has already been decided upon.

Rik said...

At the end of the day it simply shows again that real economic reform is not going to happen unless it is forced (forced the hard way).

Jim Kemeny said...

The key in this has to be Berslusconi's support, or what is left of it at this stage. I note OE has Berlusconi as the first tag, though he is not even mentioned in the post. Odd. I think we just had have to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Italy and France have become the capital "M" in MananaZone.