Whether it was because of the chorus of negative reactions in Italy, led by Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni himself, or because of the noises coming from the financial markets which took an immediate fall, the fact is that Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, realized last week that he had made a wrong move and corrected course.
“Whatever the outcome, I am confident that we will have a government that makes sure that Italy remains a central player in Europe and in shaping its future,” he said. It was not the most natural prose, and seemed rather embarrassed, but it was a clear step back from the alarm sirens that his previous statement had started up.
Juncker had made the offending statement early Thursday morning: “We have to brace ourselves for the worst scenario and the worst scenario could be no operational government.”
Because of this, he said, “a strong reaction of the financial markets in the second half of March” was possible—an apocalyptic scenario. Juncker has not forgotten that on the same day as the Italian elections on March 4, another vote could rattle Europe and cause even more violent aftershocks: the internal referendum of the German SPD on the proposal to return to a grand coalition with Angela Merkel. But the true point of weakness, according to Juncker, remains the Italian peninsula, as he said he was “more worried by the result of elections in Italy than by the result of the vote of SPD members.”