What next as Italy hits another political deadlock
Weeks after winning a slim majority in the February polls, Italian leftist politician Pier Luigi Bersani failed to form a new government, plunging Italy into deeper uncertainty. FRANCE 24 examines the likely political scenarios in Italy.
Italy is at an impasse again and this time, it’s serious.
A day after leftist Pier Luigi Bersani threw in the towel after failing to form a new government; Italian politicians began a new round of talks Friday to try to hammer together a coalition following the February 24-25 elections, which failed to produce an outright winner.
As tempers rose, nerves frayed and talks continued, the political rhetoric in Italy sounded more exhausted than incensed.
While Mario Monti’s technocratic government remains in office until a new one is formed, the veteran economist has publicly declared that he “can’t wait to leave office”.
For his part, Bersani recently said “only a mentally ill person” could have “a burning desire to govern right now.” He made the comment on Wednesday after meeting senior members of Five Star, a protest movement led by Beppe Grillo, a former comedian.
Grillo himself has made clear the movement will not back any government led by either the centre-left or centre-right and in a blog post earlier this week, the charismatic comedian called mainstream Italian politicians such as Silvio Berlusconi and Bersani "old whoremongers".
FRANCE 24 spoke to Alessandro Grandesso - journalist at Italy’s Radio Monte Carlo and a former Paris correspondent for the Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading newspaper - to take stock of the situation in the eurozone’s third-largest economy and to consider likely political scenarios.
FRANCE 24: With the failure of talks led by Pier Luigi Bersani, what are the possible scenarios in Rome?
Alessandro Grandesso: Experts, politicians, journalists...currently everybody in Italy wants to offer their opinion since the country seems stuck in a catastrophic mess. We do not know who to listen to, or who to believe. But there are three likely scenarios emerging:
1. Charge someone other than Bersani with forming a majority coalition. Of course, he or she may face the same difficulties, but we can perhaps hope that given the current dramatic situation, some parties will agree to take action to make things happen.
2. New elections - immediately. But the complex electoral law could lead to the same impasse. In addition, the Constitution prevents President Giorgio Napolitano from dissolving parliament in the last months of his term, even if the language and terms in the Constitution are rather vague, allowing a loose interpretation of the text.
3. Form a transitional government until new elections. This is the solution that seems the most logical. This would entail forming a technocratic government – like that of Mario Monti’s – that would restore political equilibrium until the next election. The problem is, this technocratic type of government is particularly unpopular with Italians, judging by Monti’s crushing defeat in the polls. [Monti won only 10% of the votes in the February election].
FRANCE 24: What happens to Pier Luigi Bersani?
Alessandro Grandesso: As the leader of a party without an outright majority, he’s in a very delicate situation. He won the elections - but with a very low margin. So, I think Pier Luigi Bersani will have to confront Matteo Renzi, the mayor of Florence who lost the December 2012 primaries to Bersani. In recent days, Renzi has returned to the media spotlight. He could replace Bersani as a candidate of the leftist coalition in the event of new elections.
FRANCE 24: What about Beppe Grillo? What role is he playing?
Alessandro Grandesso: We really don’t understand what he wants. He does not have a really defined role in the Italian political landscape - except as the leader of a movement that is not a party. The fact that the Five Star movement does not have a conventional structure allows Grillo get involved in politics or to remain outside if the situation does not suit him. And that’s been the case so far since he has refused any alliance with Berlusconi or Bersani. The question now is who will he join forces with. There are several names around, but once again, nothing’s concrete as yet.
FRANCE 24: Who can succeed Giorgio Napolitano as president of the republic?
Alessandro Grandesso: The situation is way too confusing right now. It was believed for a moment that Berlusconi would be a candidate, but he has denied it. I think the immediate priority is not to find Napolitano’s successor, but to reassure the markets – and that’s urgent because you don’t want to sink into the same sort of crisis as we did in 2011.