Coalition collapses: Italy facing new crisis?

Italy's four-party government has collapsed. On Wednesday evening, Italia Viva leader Matteo Renzi pulled out of the centre-left coalition, claiming that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was unfit to lead the country in these difficult times. The dispute was sparked mainly by disagreements over the distribution of EU coronavirus funds. Commentators examine the repercussions beyond Italy's borders.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Pro-European spirit must not fade

The government's collapse also has a tragic component for the EU, writes Oliver Meiler, Italy correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“For the first time in ages, EU approval ratings in Italy have seen a dramatic increase. Of course this is connected with the recovery fund, with the great wave of warmth after the cold at the beginning of the epidemic, when Italy felt abandoned. Conte turned out to be a European, which came as quite a surprise. He took advantage of the good contacts of his coalition partner the Partito Democratico and, in exchange for the promise of reforms, achieved more than anyone in Italy had expected. It would be a shame and a colossal waste if this new spirit fades now and the nationalists come to power now.”

Azonnali (HU) /

Not that big a deal

This probably won't change much in Rome, Azonnali predicts:

“As it was only in the Senate that the Conte government lost its majority, the situation is not all that dramatic. The most likely scenario is that Conte will be able to continue to govern the country either by expanding the current coalition or by receiving a new mandate to form a government. The formation of a 'government of experts' also can't be ruled out. On the other hand, it is far less likely that there will be an early election or that a centre-left politician will be given the mandate to govern the country.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

What does Renzi actually want?

La Repubblica is unconvinced by the reasoning behind the withdrawal:

“[Renzi's] reasons can be summarised as follows: Prime Minister Conte is unsuited to leading Italy in a crucial phase of its history in which the vast European resources must be used to modernise the country, and not for clientelism or creating an electoral consensus. ... One does not have to look far to find the contradictions in this rationale. Renzi himself was the architect of Conte's second government in the summer of 2019, when the limitations of the man and the new coalition were already obvious. ... What's more, although Renzi denounces Conte's immobility and inertia in the face of urgent problems (health, schools, infrastructure), he has no reservations about Conte's potential reappointment.”

Die Presse (AT) /

The Italians don't deserve this

Die Presse has no sympathy for the political intrigues in Rome:

“There is no plausible reason for the collapse of the coalition in the midst of a global pandemic. It's not even clear why Matteo Renzi, the man primarily responsible for the crash, is doing this. ... In the foreground are power games and vanities. ... In the spring the discipline and initiative of the Italians showed them to be masters of crisis management. Doctors and care staff went beyond their own limits, Italy's researchers at home and abroad contributed valuable insights for overcoming the pandemic. None of them deserve the irresponsible tragic performance that their politicians are giving them at present.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Completely out of touch

Italy's politicians apparently live on a different planet, La Stampa grumbles:

“There was a time when we used to imagine our politicians locked up in ivory towers, protected from the harsh realities of life. The impression we get today is that they have climbed into spaceships and are watching what is happening in the world, and especially in Italy, from thousands of kilometres away. ... They live on news that they themselves put out into the world in a great media spectacle of declarations and counter-declarations. ... There is in fact almost no connection between the 'crisis' of the Italian government and the 'crises' of millions of citizens who are waiting for effective measures to distribute the financial aid from which they are supposed to live. ... They are also waiting in vain for clear words on issues such as a detailed vaccination plan or a return to efficient teaching in schools.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

Insane, but also an opportunity

The Aargauer Zeitung still sees a spark of hope despite all the problems:

“To trigger a government crisis in the middle of the Covid pandemic, in the middle of the worst health emergency in the history of the Italian Republic: what happened in Rome on Wednesday seems nothing short of absurd and surreal. Most Italians have other problems: millions of them are facing the descent into poverty and tens of thousands of businesses are on the brink of closure. ... The coalition partners never developed a common vision for Italy. Seen in this light, this seemingly insane political crisis might even be an opportunity for Italy: if, under the direction of President Sergio Mattarella, the parties were to recognise their responsibility for the country and offer their support for a government of national unity.”