Analysis. Renzi accomplished his goal, and Conte has resigned. Now the tug of war is under way.

The Democratic Party’s mission: Save Giuseppe

With the crisis made official, Matteo Renzi does not hide the satisfaction at having hit his first goal: to get “the people’s lawyer” out of the Palazzo Chigi. And now that he feels like he’s out of the corner, he is preparing for the second round: to prevent him from coming back. “Now we can finally make a serious government, with support in the legislature, which would give concrete, not evasive answers to the challenges of the pandemic and ensure the recovery takes place,” he wrote in the news section of his website. “A government capable of putting the gigantic Next Generation EU effort into concrete form as projects. With a serious, well-written, concrete program.”

These are all features that—at least according to Renzi’s opinion of the leader of the Conte 2 government—the outgoing premier does not show. The ploy is to go to the President not with names or vetoes, but with a program with the things that Conte has failed to do. ”We will go to the Quirinale Hill without any preconception,” assured “the Wrecker.” “Wasting Recovery money, wasting time on the vaccines, delaying the return to the schools, letting people rely on subsidies for living are all unforgivable mistakes.”

This happens to be precisely the criticisms that Italia Viva has made against Conte in recent months. And therefore, by an all-too-easy deduction, Renzi thinks the lawyer is not the right man to go on. Teresa Bellanova struck a softer note: “For us, there is Conte, but not only Conte.”

If Italia Viva is working for a post-Conte period, imagining various solutions, including that of proposing one of the higher-ups from the M5S for Prime Minister, the PD remains firm in its support of the lawyer. And this will be seen in the tug of war with Renzi in the coming days. The first half of the game was won by the senator from Rignano, and now the PD is seeking a comeback, in the belief, as Alessandro Alfieri from the Reformist wing said, that within Italia Viva there are “many parliamentarians who see a Conte 3 government as a positive solution, who want to maintain a relationship of cooperation with the PD.”

After “Operation Responsible Votes” failed, the Dems were forced to take back their veto against the “untrustworthy” Matteo. They hope to cut him down to size in the next government (with a pro-European group as the fourth or fifth leg of the majority), but the idea of excluding IV has been regretfully put aside.

Now, the goal is saving Private Giuseppe. This was set to be the heart of Wednesday’s report by Nicola Zingaretti to the Dem leadership, followed by a vote. The premier is being described as an “unavoidable balancing point” for a new government with a “large, solid, pro-European” majority. Goffredo Bettini is even more explicit: “We must not start again with a nauseatingly political and abstract debate, putting into play different options for the premiership or for alliances that would waste the heritage accumulated in recent months and that would lead Italy to new moments of confusion and uncertainty.”

Like Bettini, Dario Franceschini is convinced that saving Conte also means preserving the possibility of a strategic alliance with the M5S: “The road traveled with this government allows us to think of this majority also in a longer perspective, as an area of reformist forces which are more than just temporary allies,” he said on Tuesday in the Council of Ministers. “This is why it is essential to preserve this perspective, even on the path of the crisis.”

Will the PD succeed? This is not at all a given, because Renzi, as Andrea Orlando said, doesn’t just aim to scuttle Conte but also the PD-M5S axis. And he continues to work for a government of national unity led by a technocrat, from Mario Draghi to worse options.

On Tuesday, there seemed to be a rift growing Inside the PD, as the Senate group leader, Andrea Marcucci, first said that “for us today, the scenario on the field is getting Conte reinstated,” then later added that “we will see the indications that the other parties will give,” and finally seemed to reverse course: “It’s not Conte at all costs.” He then clarified that “common sense naturally leads to a Conte 3 government.”

It was a turn of phrase which said that, basically, the PD went in a few hours from the line “either Conte or elections” to hoping that Conte would be given the mandate. A line that, for now, does not contain further conditions; but that could change again if it comes out as a result of the consultations that the current premier is unable to enlarge the majority.

At that point, in order to avoid a government of national unity, which they see as the absolute evil, the PD could go so far as to accept as Prime Minister a figure from the M5S triad of Di Maio, Fico or Stefano Patuanelli. But this, at least at the PD’s headquarters, is not a topic for today. Now, what is needed is to save Giuseppe.

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