Renzi is gone. So be it. His resignation was overdue. He should have stepped down way before the elections and have made space for Gentiloni. He was just one populists among many; he was not Italy’s last hope of a populism-free government. That was Gentiloni. Still in his way out of the front row, Renzi did a disservice to his party and his people by excluding yet another time a cooperation with M5S, the Five Star Movement. Let this be a step that is motivated in honorable principles (it’s not – it’s the reaction of a sore loser): It still completely lacks any pragmatic analysis of the post-election situation.
Not many parties made it into parliament. M5S won without winning: biggest party, but no immediate partners. The right-wing won without winning: It’s the secreto-fascist Lega
Nord, opinion-eroded Forza Italian, and the no less right-wing fringe party Fratelli d’Italia. And then there’s PD and its spin-off Le Uguali (the equals) that just got grounded badly. Plus two seats for the local party of South Tyrol, one for the liberal group of Emma Bonini (+Europa), and one seat each for two parties that represents Italians abroad.
This can lead to creativity about how to form this government. Naturally, there are many ways that mathematically work but practically will never. So it comes down to two realistic options other than re-elections or a minority government by M5S or the right-wing alliance:
(1) An alliance of M5S and PD. Yes, the Social Democrats would have to ally with who they had identified as their main opponent in the electoral campaign. There would be ig fights about positions towards the European Union. Or would there be? Renzi himself had taken anti-austerity positions. M5S has given up ideas of leaving the Euro since Beppe Grillo left the picture. And they are actively approaching PD.
(2) An alliance of M5S and Lega
Nord. Di Maio, the leader of M5S, said before the elections that he might be a populist, but he is not a fascist of the kind of Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, and (and that’s the important thing) Matteo Salvini. To his credit, Di Maio has steered away the movement from some rather right-wing positions, and he has not expressed himself as fiercely anti-EU as Matteo Salvini. Matteo Salvini himself has excluded that alliance in the intermediate aftermath of the elections; that what they all do.
And yet this is the alternative. If PD outright rejects any cooperation between M5S and themselves, they make a cooperation between M5S and the Lega
Nord more likely. Every statement of any pseudo-proud loser drives Italy closer to the abyss. If that happens, I’m going to blame the PD for it. They would have served their country to the fascists on a silver plate.
It’s not the time for the political games. Minority governments are political options. The PD could find its role in the position of an independent partner. Italy needs a clear standpoint against the hard right-wing. The right-wing was only missing 4%-6%, give or take, to form an anything-but-moderate government from its own strength. That’s nothing.
There is no short route back to leadership. There might not even be a long route, and being the minority partner in a M5S-led government might not help. It’s possible this will strengthen other groups on the left-wing, while it will further marginalize the PD. So be it. At least the PD can go on with the self-confidence of taking a key role in Italian politics: It’s them who prevent another ultra-right government, and it’s them who force a moderate touch upon some political ideas of M5S. Given the circumstances, that’s more important than political pride.
And who knows… others think that of all parties it’s actually M5S that’s closest to the end of its life cycle.