Commentary. The timing of Renzi’s exit from the Democratic Party might have surprised many, but it is not at all surprising in terms of substance, given his known allergy to playing a subordinate role in the well-worn Democratic Party.

The little monarch: Matteo Renzi’s schism from the Democratic Party

In a political/electoral scenario that might take a turn toward proportional representation, it is, at least to an extent, simply in the nature of things for the “intruder” Renzi to walk away from the Democratic Party and try to form his own party. From another point of view, however, the schism can be interpreted primarily as the result of narcissistic behavior, typical of people in power who are unable to accept being defeated and are unwilling to go to the “back of the line” once again, as usually happens in a democracy.

However, in the context of the current profound restructuring of the political system, everything and everyone is in a fluid state, whether old, new or under reconstruction. The political imbalance, which had become tri-polar with the advent of the Five Stars, is now tearing itself apart. There is a hard right, which has restructured and turned into the Fascist-Lega wing; and, as its opposite, a center that is trying to prove its worth once again, with Zingaretti as a governing force in alliance with the M5S (a formula that will probably be applied again for the next regional elections as well, while masked by the local-issue-focused civic lists).

If this is how the situation looks, it is clear that the avenues of opportunity are shrinking for those who are motivated by a strong desire for individual power.

Matteo Renzi has finally revealed the name of his brainchild: “Italia Viva” (“Italy Alive”). But if this were a historical novel, one might well have called it “the House of Renzi”: a small, fledgling monarchy which needs to grow, and thus needs some more time before facing any electoral tests.

And yet, it already poses a risk for the government—even if Renzi is promising he will vote to support it (which is music to Conte’s ears, even coming from someone who isn’t the most trustworthy of politicians) and that he will not participate in local and regional elections (which could have been the first real test to measure the balance of power).

The former Secretary of the Democratic Party—now the former member of the Democratic Party—says he wants to take on the role of Salvini’s number one enemy, his chosen nemesis to defeat. To achieve this objective, the perspective of supporting the newborn government from the legislature seems useful, with Renzi himself in the role of essential facilitator. The timing of his exit from the Democratic Party might have surprised many, but it is not at all surprising in terms of substance, given his known allergy to playing a subordinate role—hardly even the leader of a particular wing—in the well-worn Democratic Party.

And yet, it must be pointed out that as of today, the Democratic Party is weakened further, that the center-left is split, and that the events of the last 13 months (featuring complete U-turns in the behavior and choices of all the main actors, including the Lega, the M5S and the Democratic Party) are completely reshuffling the cards of Italian politics.

Until March 4, 2018, everything remained in balance. Today, there’s no more of that: there is a game with two sides, but a number of would-be “prima donnas” are vying for the spotlight.

The changes that we are seeing might also bring something new to the scattered and wavering forces of the left, leading it to play an important role—like it has played, and is still playing, for example, in the realms of migration, the climate, the development model and the right to have rights as such.

But this can happen only on one condition: that is, if they take what Renzi is doing now and do the exact opposite. Focusing on unity, not on division. On women and men working together. On the good of the collective rather than the power of one individual. The country doesn’t need demagogues who go on a tantrum and smash everything around them if someone takes away their favorite toy.

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