Commentary. The decision to do this shows the immaturity of this political formation, and its continued choice to not face up to the strict logic of our institutions.

5 Star Movement announces ministers for non-existent government

The publishing of a list of ministers by the 5 Star Movement before the elections is an act of political propaganda. It is not an unlawful act, since there is no rule against it, but it has no meaning whatsoever from a legal standpoint.

The decision to do this shows the immaturity of this political formation, and its continued choice to not face up to the strict logic of our institutions. That is not a good omen for a party aspiring to form a government. This institutional infantilism prevents them from taking seriously the principles that our Constitution sets out for the formation of the government, and this naiveté is likely to have effects that are the very opposite of what they intend.

Many have pointed out, rightly, that this gesture runs roughshod over the prerogatives of the president of the republic, who has the exclusive authority to appoint the prime minister, and, upon his proposals, the individual ministers.

But their biggest misstep lies in the fact that, if any political force submits a list of ministers during the electoral campaign, they can end up compromising their ability to actually form a government after the elections. When the consultations with the president will begin, the already-published provisional list of ministers will be an obstacle to their actual appointment.

How, after all, could a political party find a parliamentary majority to back it up if they have already decided on the composition of the government? How can the search for a political compromise—even the most noble and rewarding one—be possible, if one party has already boasted that they will be the ones to decide who will be part of the government?

Going on the search for allies—hopefully solid and loyal ones—with the list of ministers already in one’s pocket does not seem to be a good tactic for achieving the desired outcome. Of course, since the list is merely a piece of paper, with nothing more than propaganda value and published strictly for electoral purposes, it can simply be discarded later on. But what then of the issues of transparency and accountability, which according to the 5 Star Movement are behind their political choice to make public a list of future ministers in the first place?

If we take the Constitution seriously, all the political forces should be reminded that the vote on March 4 will not elect the government, but rather the members of Parliament. We should therefore pay more attention to the names that have been proposed on the actual electoral lists, instead of preparing fictitious lists for a future cabinet.

And we should choose competent and respectable people, who would be able to return a dignity to our representative institution that, right now, it no longer has. Many seem to be forgetting that the function of a Parliament is not merely to give a vote of confidence to a government (let alone one proposed before the actual elections), but also to write good laws, conduct inquiries on matters of public interest, and control public spending and the activity of the ministries.

The Parliament and its members, if we listen to Walter Bagehot, should even go so far as to educate the nation, interpret its desires, and bring problems, in all their aspects, to the attention of the country. But in order to make this possible, two preconditions appear indispensable: a respectable ruling class, aware of its institutional role, and the possibility given to voters to choose their own representatives on the basis of a rationally motivated relationship of political trust.

The lack of both these prerequisites cannot be supplanted by corner-cutting propaganda.

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