It all started quietly, with behind-the-scenes threats that echoed from time to time in the press, in the form of indiscretions. Then came the open threats of rupture, on the eve of the end of year celebrations: if he did not obtain guarantees, the former prime minister and secretary of the Democratic Party (center left) Matteo Renzi, now at the head of the small centrist party Italia Viva, would withdraw his confidence in the chairman of the council, Giuseppe Conte. However, no one seriously thought that the current majority would afford the luxury of opening one of those political crises which constitute the ordinary of Italian political life, the very day when the civil protection announced that Italy was deploring more than 80 000 dead in the Covid-19 epidemic.
In general, it is a question of influencing more than breaking up, of threatening more than of taking action. But sometimes it happens that, from one bidding up to the next, the protagonists find themselves placed, almost without knowing it, in a situation where no one can take a step back. This had been the situation in which Giuseppe Conte and Matteo Renzi found themselves for several days. On Wednesday January 13, shortly after 6 p.m., the latter announced in a press conference the imminent departure of the three members of the government from his party, Teresa Bellanova (agriculture), Elena Bonetti (family) and Ivan Scalfarotto (secretary of state foreign affairs and international cooperation), a few hours after the adoption by the Council of Ministers of the main lines of the European recovery plan.
“An incomprehensible act”
Comparing Giuseppe Conte to a “Naked king”, whose practice of power caused a profound “Vulnus [blessure] democratic “, the former strongman of the Italian left launched a violent indictment against a head of government accused of “Want full powers” : “Whoever claims to stop the democratic game in the name of the pandemic is not blocking the pandemic but democracy! “, he asserts. However, a few minutes later, the same Matteo Renzi does not seem to exclude returning to the negotiating table. “We have no prejudices either on the names or on the formulas. But, both for this majority and for any other form of parliamentary majority, there is not just a name [de président du conseil] possible. “
In the ranks of the parliamentary majority now in danger, the critics begin to fall even before the end of the speech. These are much more virulent from his former Democratic Party allies. For the party secretary, Nicola Zingaretti, Matteo Renzi’s coup is “An incomprehensible act, an extremely serious error”. His right arm, Andrea Orlando, speaks of a “Mistake made by a few, but which we will pay”.
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