Commentary. Our democracy is also under quarantine. And perhaps it could not be otherwise, since draconian measures are being put into practice with consequences for the daily lives of every single citizen.

A government of public disgrace

Does anyone really believe that in order to succeed in tackling the health emergency caused by the coronavirus, it would be necessary to have a “public health” government that would include everyone from Salvini to Zingaretti, Renzi and Berlusconi? According to what we read in some newspapers and according to the positions expressed by some politicians, that would be the solution. But that would be a government of public disgrace.

The M5S-PD alliance has been the target of much criticism ever since it took its first steps last summer, and not only coming from right-wing and center-right forces: even PD members or PD-leaning commentators argued that it would be better to organize early elections. Luckily, it didn’t turn out that way, and the unprecedented yellow-red alliance, entrusted to Conte’s helmsmanship, managed to hold up.

It held up despite objective difficulties (the economy), subjective ones (the old mutual grudges still held between PD fans and the followers of Grillo), slip-ups, ambiguities, uncertainties and inabilities. If one adopts a critical stance from the start towards this political novelty, it becomes all too easy to identify some weakness or other at its core.

However, the two coalition partners, while having to share one bed with a too-narrow blanket, have managed not to rip it apart, and right now they are proving that they can lead the country in a situation of unprecedented and unpredictable seriousness. This is also thanks to the left-wing component, which, unlike Renzi, has always shown loyalty and active—while not uncritical—support.

This is confirmed by the good performance of Health Minister Speranza, who is able to manage a situation that requires very drastic measures in a balanced manner and without alarmism.

From this point of view, we must reflect on an aspect that is also unprecedented—namely, the fact that our democracy is also under quarantine. And perhaps it could not be otherwise, since draconian measures are being put into practice with consequences for the daily lives of every single citizen. 

Here, another issue needs to be discussed: is it really necessary to take drastic measures for the whole population in order to be able to defeat the COVID-19 enemy? Indeed, if we take the Chinese example as our point of reference, the answer can only be “yes.” However, there is no democratic system in China, while there is one here. And our freedom, individual and collective, is being set aside today. If the good of the country, the health of 60 million people, is indeed at stake in such a dramatic manner, perhaps we can accept, with responsibility and awareness, this difficult phase of our history: when we are at war—and we indeed are, against the coronavirus—everyone has the right and the duty to do their part. 

And many Italians today have the (albeit paradoxical) conviction that they can make their contribution to bring the country out of this very difficult crisis. If we win this fight as soon as possible, the country will come out stronger, because we will have shown that we are capable of dealing with something truly unprecedented.

However, if we look carefully at the news from the last few days, it is more than obvious that certain political forces have been taking potshots at those in charge, while advocating for everything and its opposite. The Fascist-Lega right wing, also through its own media, newspapers and TV stations, claimed at first that very harsh measures were needed, sealing off the borders of the country; later on, they said we needed to treat this epidemic as a simple flu and—in Salvini’s own words—“reopen, reopen everything: gyms, museums, galleries, stadiums, bars, shopping centers, factories, shops, discos.” Then, they went back to advocating that the country should be put on lockdown, after the government had already taken this decision after careful consideration (especially regarding the words and language used). 

The right wing is also good at playing the game of revising upwards the estimates of the economic resources needed to resolve the emergency: first 20 billion, then 40, 50, 70, like morbid auctioneers. And that wasn’t all: from both the right and left, there was no end of confusion when the legislative decree on the enlargement of the red zones was leaked to the media in advance on Sunday evening.

Recalling Salvini’s many flip-flops helps us understand in whose hands the country would end up if a government were to be set up which included (almost) everybody, and which would put irresponsible people in charge. Imagine someone like Salvini as Prime Minister: if his calls to “reopen everything” had been followed, today we would be facing an implosion of the health system and who knows how many dead.

Thank goodness that we have a Prime Minister who can speak to the country in a balanced manner, without instilling fear or minimizing the dangers of the moment. At this very moment, there are forces and interests that are pushing to bring down this alliance and to appoint a “super-commissioner” to save the country, and perhaps this is more than just idle political talk. But we are convinced that the PD, the left-wing representatives in the government and especially Conte and the Five Stars will not abandon the country in the hands of those who are worse than the coronavirus.

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