I agree with the jurist Massimo Villone: many reprimands raised against Salvini and Di Maio for having proposed a controversial personality for the Ministry of the Economy are based on a formalistic understanding of the Constitution. However, it is a bad formalism, which under the excuse of ‘correctness’ seems to conceal the satisfaction and hope of seeing this government fail. Rather, we should condemn the instrumental use of the Constitution, which is the real issue at stake.
In this regard, only a few concepts are obvious and indisputable in constitutional law. The rest are debatable, including the powers that bind the president to the government, shaped by practices and profoundly influenced by the relationship that is established between the president and the parties. The events that culminated in the political crisis last Sunday could be regarded as a new page in the long and controversial history that has seen the president claiming new prerogatives, with the effect of redefining his institutional yet political function.
The political doctrine has highlighted that the presidential powers have grown in the crisis of the traditional party system. This time the new fact is that the president was confronted with two parties with a significant electoral following and, especially in the case of M5S, a qualitatively new form of party, different from the traditional ones. In this context, the president has expressed an idea of distance, of communication problems between himself and the parties, which had the majority in parliament. This had a certain effect of delegitimizing them, but it has also communicated a sense of mutual estrangement. Therefore, the systematic growth of the presidential powers has corresponded to a dangerous separation and lack of communication between the parties and the president.
The issue at stake here regards Mattarella’s misleading behavior: can the president appeal to Europe and its dogmas in order to provide an alternative legitimacy to popular sovereignty? Is the euro a valid reference point for the provision of national unity by the president of the Italian Republic? And, above all: in a system where there is a constitutive, dynamic link between the president and the parties, can they each go their own way, one against the other?
In this perspective, we should consider the 5 Star tendency to reconcile with the national institutions not as a mere signal of obedience, but rather as a mature political awareness. A fundamental message of positive change and stability.
In conclusion, we should be able to celebrate the Constitution on June 2 (Republic Day) that is not based on the principle of authority, but on mutual trust and loyalty between all the actors, in the awareness of each of them of being called upon to make popular sovereignty flourish, and never to prevent it.
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