Italy heading for new elections

Italian President Mattarella has charged pro-European economist Carlo Cottarelli with forming a transitional government. Prior to the move the government building process between Cinque Stelle and Lega Nord failed when President Sergio Mattarella vetoed the appointment of eurosceptic Paolo Savona as finance minister. What do the likely new elections portend?

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La Repubblica (IT) /

No sign of an Italian Macron

Stefano Folli, La Repubblica's domestic affairs expert, asks worriedly who can now prevent the triumphant advance of the anti-euro parties:

“ First of all, the parties themselves. The Five Star Movement is well on its way to becoming an extremist sect with subversive affectations in its hurry to forget its failure [to form a coalition government]. The astute [leader of the Northern League] Salvini will have to decide quickly whether he wants to campaign with Berlusconi or with M5S. He can't do it on his own. Secondly, to stop the Eurosceptics pro-Europeans are needed. But they're hard to come by. In France, Macron put a halt to Marine Le Pen, the French version of Salvini, last year. ... Italy's problem is that unfortunately there is no sign of a Macron on the horizon who could create a new unity.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Plebiscite on the euro

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung looks at how the EU should prepare for Italy exiting the euro after new elections:

“New elections stand to become a plebiscite on the euro, meaning that the European Union will face the next serious test after the Brexit. On the short term, what's important is that Italy engage in a discussion that is as objective as possible about the advantages and disadvantages of the common currency. Then the other governments must prepare options for an orderly exit from the Eurogroup. They must think about how they want to rescue Italy in case of a collapse - and whether they can.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Let the populists govern!

The situation is more dangerous than ever after the failed attempt at forming a government in Italy, Rzeczpospolita agrees:

“This is merely the start of the Italian crisis, and it could pose a serious threat to Europe. Its true dimensions will only become known after the next elections, if the two populist parties that have been reined in by Mattarella receive even more support. The president's tactic is risky. His doesn't have the social mandate (he was voted in by MPs, senators and regional delegates) of the two eurosceptic parties that won the most votes in the last elections. The next elections could see even more anger at the establishment. The populists should be allowed to govern now, as long as they haven't managed to convince everyone that they can. When they come up against reality they won't fail to become more moderate.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Boosting productivity better than devaluation

Italy only has itself to blame for its economic crisis, Die Presse criticises, and looks back to the early 1970s:

“Germany zoomed ahead in terms of competitiveness. The other European countries faced the choice of either defending their position on the export markets with currency devaluations or catching up with Germany in terms of productivity through tough structural reforms. Italy opted for the former. In Austria the general director of the central bank Heinz Kienzl (Social Democratic Party), finance minister Hannes Androsch (Social Democratic Party) and central bank president Stephan Koren (People's Party) pushed through stringent pegging to the deutsche mark. ... The difference is clearly visible today. The lesson: if you can't devalue your currency you need to boost your competitiveness and raise productivity.This can be done, as we have seen. And it's a promising path.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Bravo Mattarella!

Handelsblatt's Italy correspondent Regina Krieger is full of praise for the president:

“For weeks now political chaos has reigned in Italy, sending stock markets plummeting and increasing the nervousness on the financial markets. President Mattarella has reacted to this in just the right way, using all the instruments that his office puts at his disposal, including the constitution and his veto right against a proposed economy minister who is a self-avowed eurosceptic. Mattarella found the right words and the right style to counter this dangerous and empty rhetoric. ... One hopes that his bulwark vouchsafed by the constitution holds up against anti-democratic invective that flies in the face of good taste. For Italy this is even more important than its current economic woes.”

Mandiner (HU) /

President doesn't care what voters want

Mattarella is trampling on the principles of democracy, Mandiner counters indignantly:

“The international mainstream press is full of stories about how the new movements that it insists on calling 'populist' are undermining democracy all over the world, unlike the old, liberal forces and guardians of democracy. But how to describe it when a president who belongs to the outdated political caste blocks ministerial appointments and, for clearly political motives, prevents the parties that the voters mandated with forming government from doing so? Does that not show a complete disregard for democracy and the will of the voters? Imagine a 'populist' head of state preventing 'liberal democrats' from forming a government because he doesn't like the ministers. What would be the response to that?”

The Guardian (GB) /

EU elites are the ones really blocking reform

To accuse the Northern League and Five Star Movement of hindering reform is absurd, writes Lorenzo Marsili, founder of the NGO European Alternatives, in The Guardian:

“The EU needs profound, immediate reform. But a reckless political establishment is intent on keeping everything as it is - come what may. Manfred Weber, the German leader of the European People's party, commented on the new Italian government by declaring eurozone reform dead in the water. This is scapegoating in reverse: Germany has no desire for European reform, and is now seizing an opportunity to block all change. … The times require leadership and vision, while our politicians sleepwalk towards the abyss.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

One last fight over Europe

The ultimate winner of all the quarrelling is Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, writes domestic policy expert Stefano Folli in La Repubblica:

“It is not for nothing that people are saying that Salvini, unlike [Five Star leader] Di Maio, had planned this all along: he never believed in a coalition with an invisible man [Giuseppe Conte] as prime minister. He began preparing for new elections long ago, over the heads of the Five Star Movement and under the slogan of 'sovereigntism'. This is the reason he showed no willingness to replace Savona with the less controversial [deputy leader of the League Giancarlo] Giorgetti. ... The new elections will become the last battle between opposing views on Europe, EU membership, economic policy and the role of the single currency”