It was the head of the delegation, Dario Franceschini, speaking at the meeting of the PD’s war cabinet of the PD, who pulled the rabbit out of the hat which could solve the crisis: asking all “responsible” politicians for a Yes vote to keep the Conte government going. Until Wednesday, the Dems, probably in order to avoid giving Renzi an alibi, had always stood firm against the option of going to seek a “scraped-together majority in the Senate.”
Now, the U-turn came: “We are in a parliamentary system in which government majorities are sought in Parliament, openly, in the light of day and without shame. And so it will be this time as well,” said Franceschini. “In the past, the term ‘responsible’ had a negative connotation, but we are no longer in a bipolar system with two poles and two candidates for prime minister, where changing one’s position used to be rightly classified as a flip-flop.”
These are clear words, which make it obvious that the work of exploring this option is quite advanced, with a contribution by the Minister of Culture himself, who supposedly has worked on the sidelines to persuade some of the rank-and-file of Italia Viva to convince them not to follow Renzi. Goffredo Bettini agrees: “Conte will present himself in Parliament with a clear speech addressed to the Italians, and I think that a majority that supports him could be found there.” Who will join him? “The liberals and pro-Europeans who consider new elections a disaster.”
The PD does not want to have anything to do with Renzi anymore. Zingaretti says so in his report: “There is a fact that cannot be erased from our analysis. And this is the political unreliability of Italia Viva. It is a fact that is present and that undermines stability in any scenario in which it is possible to imagine an involvement by them and a possible new start.” Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri is even more clear: “We have taken note of the total irresponsibility and unreliability of Italia Viva.”
The other line in the sand, connected to the first one, is the no to any grand coalition governments involving the sovereignists, a scenario on which Renzi has been working for a long time and which is one of the reasons for which he triggered the crisis. The PD is unequivocally stating they are out: “We must reiterate that for us it is unthinkable to have any collaboration in government with the Italian sovereignist and nationalist right,” said Zingaretti. “We cannot afford to govern with those who have identified with Trump and have constantly expressed anti-European sentiment.” The Minister for the South, Giuseppe Provenzano, was clear: “Renzi is willing to join his votes with the worst right-wing of the history of the Republic; we are not.”
The line of the Dems for the next few days seems to be clearly defined. Although there are still doubts about the feasibility of “Operation Responsible” (at the PD’s headquarters they’re saying that “Conte is working on it,” and in the morning there were definite doubts from the PD about the real numbers of votes they could count on), this step must be pursued to the end. Due to loyalty to the Prime Minister, but also because Zingaretti and his crew believe it is right to try to go with this government, which “has done good work.”
Even the leader of the PD’s group in the Senate, Andrea Marcucci, the most hostile to the “responsible” strategy, finally yielded: “We believe that the activity of the government should continue, and then a vote will be sought in Parliament. I also hope that some might have second thoughts; in any case, I believe it is necessary to gather all the support that can be obtained. We can call them ‘responsible’ political forces, or ‘constructive’ ones. I believe that Italy needs a government.”
If the vote count in the Senate goes the wrong way for Conte, the Dems see only a provisional government under the direction of President Mattarella, leading to elections in June. For now, there are no other options.
There are many clues that early elections remain a real possibility in the PD’s view. In recent days, Zingaretti has always said they would be “a mistake,” but has repeatedly warned that “we are likely to tumble towards elections if the crisis gets any crazier.”
And, after all, it is well known that the secretary of the Democratic Party does not fear going to the polls, and in recent weeks Goffredo Bettini and Dario Franceschini have outlined an alliance between the Democratic Party, M5S, LeU and a possible Conte List, with a leading role for the premier in the election campaign. In the parliamentary groups, however, people are reacting very badly to the notion that they might be sent home. Therefore, if “Operation Responsible” were to fail, it would be a problem for Zingaretti to keep his parliamentarians away from the siren song of a grand coalition government with Renzi.