Commentary. The “new” government is unworthy of the clear signal sent by the referendum.

Renzi resigned, but he isn’t leaving

The show is frankly unwatchable, a week after the vote that swept Matteo Renzi and his government. I mean the public show, played “from above” by the entire establishment.

The way the Gentiloni government has been set up, the procedures of his office (with the so-called parallel consultations between the Presidential Palace and the government palace, things never seen before!). And then its composition (a photocopy of the Renzi government).

This is an insult to the Italian vote, to the principle of reality, to the Constitution itself, which was miraculously saved on Dec. 4, in particular to its Article 1 and the less-known Article 54 (which bestows upon public servants “the duty to fulfill such functions with discipline and honor,” which means accepting popular verdicts and respecting truth and promises made).

The fact that a “Renzi man” is sitting in the government palace, that the majority of the Renzi government members have kept their seats and, above all, that Renzi continues to own the golden share by staying as secretary of the Democratic Party where he will relentlessly pollute political life, in spite of his promise that in case of defeat he would retire from all his positions, constitute devastating damage not only to the image of him and his party, but for the entire country.

This seems intended to confirm the worst image of Italians, as cunning and lazy. It is not a good omen for our banks and our accounts. In the background David Cameron, who also was nothing special, disappeared from the scene after Brexit (also lost by a whisker), and with him his most loyal men, unlike Minister Lotti (with his publishing proxy) and Maria Elena more than ever in the saddle.

The picture “at the bottom” is quite different.

The vote — that No yelled at the polls — communicates a powerful political message. It talks to politics with the hard language of natural cataclysms.

And it does it, above all, because it has at its root a very strong, tough, social connotation. All the flow analyses confirm it: The map of the No follows faithfully the disadvantage map. Indeed, the many disadvantages: social, generational, gender, territorial. The No is growing exponentially, with the decrease in disposable income, the increase of unemployment, particularly among young people, with the transition from the suburbs to the big cities, and of course with the explosion of the South.

It could be said that the Renzi populism from above — Renzi’s storytelling — crashed into a population immersed in reality, in material and existential suffering. That vote, that many would like to put away in the attic, was like a giant door slammed in the face of the domestic and foreign establishment.

You could say that is not new. Already the British vote, and in part the American one, share the same roots of social anger, discomfort, impoverishment and resentment of the forgotten against their own elites.

But Italy’s has a different and original element. Here, the “miracle” occurred differently. The anger and discomfort found in the Constitution a point of convergence and common denominator: the democratic, egalitarian and anti-fascist Constitution around which everybody regrouped, even those who would be elsewhere, because of their political affiliation.

This is no small thing. Actually, I would say that it is (almost) everything. It means that the parts of our society that are in pain, the most vulnerable and most proven sectors, the world of labor, the impoverished middle classes, those who are out of the narrative of power, have a sense that the Constitution is “their own”: an umbrella and a protection above their heads.

So I think it can be said that, due to the level of participation and the unequivocal answer, the Constitutional Referendum of Dec. 4 can be considered “constituent.” Constituent from the inside, in regards to the Italian political environments, because it says loud and clear that nobody should dare to tamper with our Constitution and deform our form of government and institutional safeguards. It is constituent externally, too, to Europe first of all, because it says no interference is allowed to upset the institutional structure of the country, to infringe the constitutionally guaranteed rights and to restrict or distort the principle of representation. The Italian Constitution must not be adapted to international treaties, but recognize only those treaties that comply with its guidelines.

It is constituent even in our small world, for us. “We defended the Constitution, now we will implement it!” This could be a common program of this varied, wide, creative area that has fought for the NO on a radically democratic experience. The premise to transform it into the embryo of a proposed electoral representation. But let’s face it: It is a challenging process. It will take many steps backwards and even more steps forward. It is not a matter of small fragments of old shattered identities. It will require above all the need to assume a logic of “Year Zero.” New languages, new practices, new ways of listening to a society that has become indecipherable to the usual political cultures: an exodus from the rubble but finally based on a victory.

Everything, really, everything was consumed, including that long shadow of the center-left which still many survivors seem to look at (it has finally sunk with Prodi’s extreme endorsement); including Giuliano Pisapia’s pathetic longing for a Democratic Party that is no longer there as if, after the Renzi bath, a real anthropological mutation had not occurred. The field is open. The geography of the vote shows it in all its extension and harshness. The ones with the courage to begin to explore it will be rewarded.

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