In preparation for the next election round, the Italian political scenario is getting more and more flustered. Leadership-building efforts, however, are far to be finalised. Political parties and their leaders are testing public confidence and assessing how voters may react to this or that alliance. A few points are clear so far: the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the centre-right People of Liberty (PdL) seem unwilling to form alliances. With PD at 26% in polls, the PdL is experiencing a sharp fall in prospective votes, which is down to below 20%. Silvio Berlusconi has not yet revealed whether he will run as a candidate and party leader or not but his return may well have consequences for Italy as a whole. Moreover, internal fights between doves and hawks are further undermining the Party’s credibility.
‘Colonels without a General‘ is the title of an article appeared recently on the digital version of one of the most prominent Italian magazines, l’Espresso. It refers to the portion of PdL leadership who feels the Party is no longer up to its tasks. Mainly composed of ex-National Alliance members – the right party that merged into Berlusconi’s Forza Italia when PdL was established – this movement will likely leave the party to form a new one. Together with the Mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno, Ignazio La Russa, Giorgia Meloni, and Maurizio Gasparri – all Ministers during previous Berlusconi’s governments – are willing to re-establish a modern version of the ‘Italian Social Movement–National Right’ Party, originally founded by post-fascist politician Giorgio Almirante, who – among other things – was the political mentor of Gianfranco Fini, who replaced him at the helm of the National Alliance Party. Someone said this is a modern version of famous Ceasar’s phrase ‘Quoque tu Brute?‘
On the other (political) hand, PD’s leader Pier Luigi Bersani seems unable to embody and represent the many flavours of centre- and far-left movements, let alone to solve the ‘Renzi’ issue.
In its quest for parliamentary seats, the PD is increasingly closer to the ‘Left, Ecology and Freedom‘ (SEL) movement, a recently established Party that may account for 7-8% of votes. SEL’s leader Nichi Vendola, currently the governor of Puglia region – has opposed Mario Monti’s government initiatives on several occasions. He is also a strong supporter of neoliberal issues such as civil and labour rights, especially those concerning radical trade unions and LGBT issues (he himself is openly homosexual and on many occasions reaffirmed his intention to get married in Italy).
Matteo Renzi, one among the most promising politicians in Italy and currently the Mayor of Florence, is an advocate of primary elections. Thanks to his staunch opposition to Bersani’s internal leadership, Renzi has earned the appellation of ‘scrapper‘ and will confront Bersani during the Party primaries, even if no one knows when and on what rules they will be celebrated. Strangely, but probably thanks to his innate communication skills, he also gained consensus among centre-right voters. Centre-right parties and movements, however, show less care of the issue than they should, convinced as they are that the political elimination of Renzi will arrive soon by hand of his own party’s hawks.
The third side of the coin is represented by a large pool of centre movements, actually larger than in the recent past. This is the richest ‘voting pot’ so far, as it includes disillusioned voters from both the above parties, undecided voters, and traditional centre parties voters. Will Pierferdinando Casini, leader of the Christian Democratic Union, Gianfranco Fini, leader of ‘Future and Freedom for Italy‘ – a movement born after the harsh separation between Fini and Berlusconi – and Francesco Rutelli, a former representative of the Italian Radicals and later of centre-left movement Alliance for Italy, succeed in convincing all the potential voters to trust them?
Together with Renzi, they are strong supporters of Monti’s Agenda, an ambitious State reform programme Mr. Monti’s technocrat government has started just after it came into office.
But no matter how you change the order of factors, the percentages of votes each of these actors can obtain will never be enough to form a stable government. Hence, the find-an-ally factor.
The same applies to Grillo’s Five Stars Movement, except that he seeks no allies, either before or after elections.
No significant and effective leader seems to emerge from this picture.So, Mr. Monti, you are the favourite candidate to become Prime Minister, again. Were you aware of that?