Former Italian Prime Minister and leader of the “Vitality Party” Renzi announced on the evening of the 13th local time that due to differences with the current Prime Minister Conte on the economic stimulus plan, he decided to withdraw the two ministers of his party serving in the government.
This move also means that the ruling coalition led by Conte is facing a crisis of collapse, and the Italian newspaper La Repubblica bluntly stated that this move officially opened the prelude to the government crisis.
Conte’s fall into a ruling crisis has undoubtedly brought a “third crisis” to Italy, which has been affected by the new crown epidemic and economic recession.
The rapidly changing Italian cabinet
Due to the special national conditions and political system, serious regional opposition, and the large, medium and small, left, center, and right parties, the Italian cabinet after World War II is known for its “short-lived” and can serve only once for a four-year term.
The current Prime Minister Conte is a jurist, originally a “political amateur” with no party or affiliation. In 2018, due to the downfall of the left-wing Democratic cabinet, he was elected by two right-wing populist parties, the Five Star Movement and the Northern Alliance, as the “factional glue”, and became the prime minister of the two-party joint cabinet.
In 2019, the Northern Alliance withdrew from the cabinet, and the Five Star Movement had to unite with three left-wing parties-the Democratic Party, the Italian Vigor Party, and the Freedom and Equality Party to form a new cabinet on September 5, 2019.
For the second time, the Conte cabinet had 341 seats in the 630-member Italian House of Representatives. With the addition of several small parties that “do not join the cabinet but trust the cabinet”, there are a total of 358 seats, occupying a clear advantage; In the Italian Senate, the ruling coalition has 167 seats, and the advantage is not obvious.
Unlike most countries that implement a representative system, the Italian Senate and the House of Representatives have almost equal weights in the formation of the cabinet. The cabinet must have more than half of the seats in both houses at the same time to stabilize its governance, otherwise it will be shaky and collapse at any time-this is also Italy after World War II. One of the key reasons for the frequent re-emergence of the cabinet.
Renzi served as the prime minister of Italy as a representative of the Democratic Party from 2014 to 2016, but resigned at the end of 2016 due to the failure of the referendum on constitutional reform, and then set up the Italian Vitality Party. As a new force in the Italian political arena, the party has only 15 seats in the Senate and 30 seats in the House of Representatives, making it the sixth largest party.
In order to win over Renzi, the ruling coalition gave the Italian Vitality Party two positions among the 21 ministers, and also set up a deputy prime minister in charge of foreign affairs, with Scarfaruto from the party.
The former prime minister “forced the palace” to gain more political bargaining chips
But in recent weeks, Renzi and the Italian Vitality Party have deliberately “died away.” Although Prime Minister Conte and other parties in the ruling coalition have pacified in every possible way, Renzi still expressed his intention to overthrow the Conte government.
In the end, he and the ruling coalition “disappeared” and the two ministers and a deputy prime minister had already withdrawn from the cabinet.
As the two major parties of the ruling coalition have more seats in the House of Representatives, the ruling coalition or pro-ruling coalition parties are “emotionally stable”; but in the Senate, after losing 15 seats of the Italian Vitality Party, the ruling coalition will have only 152 seats left. For most seats, the Conte cabinet may collapse at any time.
Renzi’s reason for withdrawing from the ruling coalition is that he is dissatisfied with the performance of the Conte cabinet’s epidemic prevention and the use of economic recovery funds.
To help member states alleviate the economies that have been hit hard by the epidemic and its response measures, the European Union has launched a recovery fund. Conte plans to use the more than 200 billion euro “recovery fund” allocated to Italy as part of the country’s large-scale recovery plan.
Renzi believes that this move will increase Italy’s debt burden. On January 12, the cabinet meeting passed a large-scale restoration plan for Italy, and all cabinet members from the Italian Vigor Party abstained.
What exactly does Renzi want? Most Italian political analysts believe that Renzi, who has so far switched jobs and built four parties by himself, is still playing the abacus of “exploiting small gains” and “getting up for the price”. They hope that while the ruling coalition is in desperation, Bo To a larger piece of “pie”.
The Italian cabinet can’t stand the toss
Before the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, the Italian economy was already showing signs of decline. In the third quarter of 2019, the Bank of Italy predicted that “zero growth may occur in 2020”. With the outbreak, spread, and aggravation of the epidemic, the central bank has continuously lowered its 2020 economic growth forecast. It has been revised down to a negative growth rate of 9.5% in July, and the recovery rate in 2021 and 2022 is not satisfactory.
It can be said that the economic recession and the epidemic are two major crises in Italy. These two crises overlapped each other and overwhelmed Italian society.
Just as Conte said after Renzi’s “forced palace”, at this moment, “a stable cabinet is needed”-two crises and a third crisis are superimposed on Italy. The point is only to “force the palace”
Renzi is waiting for Conte to negotiate and bargain to avoid the collapse of the ruling coalition, leading to the dissolution of the cabinet and re-election.
Judging from the current polls, once a re-election, the opposition populist Northern Alliance and the right-wing Forza d’Italia may gain more seats, which will make the cabinet formation and the political prospects of Italy more complicated and delicate. This is Conte and the ruling coalition. What he tried to avoid was the bargaining chip of Renzi’s negotiation.
But the other members of the ruling coalition may not buy it: they feel that Renzi and the Italian Vitality Party currently occupy enough cabinet seats.
Renzi is not without game costs. It seems that he has a big appetite, but he also has scruples. The latest polls show that the support rate of the Italian Vitality Party among Italian voters is only a mere 3%. If it is urgent, it will force the ruling coalition to risk triggering the election rather than “cut the meat.” The “one acre and three cents of land” cannot be kept.
It remains to be seen where this “Game of Thrones” will go. But what is certain is that Italy, which is in a two-fold predicament, can no longer “torn” the political instability.