ROME – When Matteo Renzi, the former Italian prime minister, who is currently conducting a poll of about 3 percent, triggered the collapse of the Italian government last month, it became the target of almost general controversy and confusion as the country plunged the country into political chaos.
He is now taking a lap.
Mr. Renzi’s gambit not only caused the fall of a prime minister and government, which he made dangerously unfit. It also resulted in an impressive update, which resulted in Mario Draghi, the European titan, to form a broad national unity government largely attributable to saving the euro, which is expected to take shape this week.
In Europe, Mr Draghi’s reputation immediately increased Italy’s prestige and credibility in receiving and spending a huge aid package that could determine the future of both Italy and the European Union. At home, the severity of Mr. Draghi’s arrival reshaped the Italian political landscape and undermined Mr. Renzi’s populist enemies.
“It was my strategy. I did it alone, with 3 percent! ”Said Mr Renzi, the former mayor of Florence, who is unaware of his ability to operate in the arms of power and outperform the competition. “It’s all a game of parliamentary tactics. And suppose the five-year-old palace where Machiavelli worked helped a little.
Admirers of Mr. Renzi marveled at his magic trick, in which he somehow created the conditions for the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, to pull Mr. Draghi’s name out of a hat. After three years, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has seen Mr Draghi as a savior – who, as President of the European Central Bank, has famously said that he will do everything in his power to save the euro.
“The election is for President Sergio Mattarella, recognition for Matteo Renzi and whatever,” wrote Christian Rocca, editor of Linkiesta, a pro-European and anti-populist publication.
Fans of Mr. Renzi talk about how he did the deliberately desired dirty work of various political forces to remove Mr. Conte. By doing so, they say, he has at least temporarily pulled the blinds off the period of populist politics introduced by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the Matteo Salvini Nationalist League Party.
But Mr. Renzi’s most effective praise may come from Mr. Renzi.
“This is a masterpiece of Italian politics,” he said of the events that brought Mr. Draghi to Rome.
Mr. Renzi’s narcissism and naked ambition made it unbearable for many Italians.
“Renzi remains the problem,” said Gianfranco Pasquino, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Bologna. Mr Renzi’s insatiable need for attention is “the constant” in Italian politics, he said.
Love it or hate it – and many people fall into the latter category today – which is hard to dispute, whether Mr Renzi is Italy’s number one political player who does not pass on the political opportunity is a raging virus or no raging virus.
“Why now? Why now? Why now?” Mr Renzi said even his friends asked him when he pulled the stopper when Italy started introducing the vaccine. But he said the epidemic put a frightening focus on the risk of staying on the same path, especially that the country had to decide what to do with more than € 200 billion in European aid funds. “If we hadn’t done it in the pandemic, we never would have done it.”
Mr. Renzi had experience in this.
In 2014, he infamously tweeted that a prime minister from his own party should be “cheerful” and then take up his job. The “decomposing man” of Italian politics, as he was called, seemed unstoppable.
In 2016, however, Mr. Renzi’s office and ambitious reform plan passed a referendum to change the Italian constitution and opposed all his enemies. He lost, resigned, and promised to quit politics. Instead, he remained the leader of the center-left Democratic Party.
This plinth mattered. In 2018, the Five Stars were the strongest in the national elections, but there was not enough support to form an independent government. The Democratic Party was frustrated, but Mr Renzi did not allow the marriage. Instead, the Five Stars joined Mr. Salvini’s league nationalists, aggressively forming an anti-European coalition. Mr. Conte was elected their prime minister.
Mr. Renzi looked like yesterday’s news. But in 2019, Mr Salvini, his popularity soared, he let go of the coalition and tried to speed up the election and seize what he called “full powers”. That’s when Mr. Renzi struck. He turned and made an alliance between his party and the Five Stars and led Mr. Salvini into opposition.
To increase the leverage of the new government, Mr Renzi founded a new party, Italia Viva, which had just enough support to force Mr. Conte to rely on the government to survive. Renzi hoped his party’s support would increase. He shrank.
Until then, Mr. Conte had guided Italy through the early months of the pandemic. His popularity skyrocketed and he sank into the centrist atmosphere where Mr. Renzi’s future ambitions lived. He took Mr Renzi’s support for granted. It’s always a mistake.
In January, when the death of Covid-19 accelerated, a curfew fell and economic disappointment struck, Mr. Renzi took a step that many thought was unthinkable.
But even as several appreciated the fall of the government and sought to gain new cabinet positions and influence, they acknowledged that Mr. Renzi had some criticisms on his side.
He accused the government of failing to reform the glacier justice system, which has deterred foreign investment. He criticized the government for the lack of ideas for spending hundreds of billions of euros on European aid money. He demanded that Italy ask for cheap EU loans of up to € 36 billion for health systems.
It was a poison pill, as the populists at Mr. Conte’s five-star support base would never have stomached too much power for Brussels. The government failed, but Mr. Conte seemed certain he could replace Mr Renzi’s support with other lawmakers. Mr. Renzi told him good luck.
Mr. Conte became increasingly desperate and offered Mr. Renzi “plenty” of cabinet positions to rejoin the government, ”Mr. Renzi said. Instead, he threaded Mr. Conte, and at the last moment, convinced that Mr. Draghi was coming in, he set off.
According to Mr Renzi, his near-low popularity gave him “absolute” room for maneuver because, instead of fear of losing support, I “worried about losing the opportunity”.
Days later, Mr. Mattarella summoned Mr. Draghi.
This chicken game was played in public. The question is: Did Mr. Renzi play a role behind closed doors in the striking alliances to bring in Mr. Draghi?
Mr Renzi said he had a tacit desire to replace Mr Conte with Mr Draghi, with whom he said he often spoke about the economic situation in Italy, including the crisis. But he insisted that Mr. Draghi “never talked to me” about getting into the position. Asked if Mr. Renzi had spoken to Mr. Draghi about such an outcome, Mr. Renzi replied, “Next question.”
“I didn’t do anything, it was Mattarella.” Smile emoji, ”Mr. Renzi said mischievously, adding that of all the political maneuvers he had made during his career,“ This operation was the most difficult. ”
It can be said that Mr Renzi’s former unwavering call for European loans has eased.
Asked whether Italy would take out the loan under Mr Draghi, he said: “It is possible. Draghi will decide.
Importantly, Mr. Draghi has arrived. The already shrinking Five Stars puts the implication at risk as its tough-bodied populists refuse to join Mr. Draghi while others pour in on him. Mr Salvini, whose northern base is aroused by businessmen, Mr Draghi, must moderate, essentially throwing years of anti-Brussels demagoguery into the sewer.
Mr Renzi will not be able to take the grand coalition hostage and will not have nearly as many cabinets as Conte has offered him. Instead, you get time and a new political backlash that can blow you somewhere right.
Until then, Mr Conte held a press conference in the middle of the square behind a desk last week and looked as if he was asking passers-by to sign a petition.
According to Mr. Renzi, Mr. Conte, like Salvini before him, was ahead of himself.
“Now,” he said. “Game over.”