Political Crisis in Italy: Early Elections Without Impeaching the President

Early parliamentary elections are likely to take place in Italy in autumn, and the Lega leader Matteo Salvini should strengthen his position on the wave of criticism against the EU policy, says Valdai Club expert Giovanni Savino, Professor at the Moscow-based Institute of Social Sciences, RANEPA.

The new technical prime minister, Carlo Cottarelli, appointed by Italian President Mattarella, must still pass approval in the parliament. This person is seen as quite dangerous in terms of his ability to promote the European Commission’s interests. Anyway, with the current composition of the parliament he will most likely not get a vote of confidence, as most of the mandates belong to the Five Stars Movement and the Lega.

In 90 days, early elections are likely to be held. It is still difficult to say what scenario will unfold. But the Lega leader Salvini has every chance to consolidate the successes and become the leader of the center-right coalition. The current crisis can be considered Salvini’s brainchild, because early elections are in his interests and give him the opportunity to appear as the real defender of the Italian electorate. This is debatable and not very true, but such a position can be successful.

It is not clear how relations with the European Union will evolve. Now all the criticism, especially from the Lega, is directed at Brussels. Italians tend to blame the European Union for many of their troubles: among other things, Brussels is accused of obstructing the formation of a new government. Unfortunately, President Mattarella himself indirectly added fuel to the fire, when he refused to appoint Eurosceptic Professor Paolo Savona as minister of economy and finance, because, in his opinion, this will not be understood in Brussels. This is a dangerous precedent that can have far-reaching consequences.

Italians are now asking themselves whether their president is with the electorate or with the Brussels bureaucrats. Apparently, the European Union will remain the main bogeyman in the forthcoming election campaign.

As for the possible impeachment of the Italian president, it is unlikely to happen. The Five Stars leader Di Maio stands for impeachment, but Salvini took a more cautious stance. After all, if Mattarella remains president, he would be a very good target for Salvini during the election campaign.

For the first time in the history of parliamentary relations in Italy, Conte’s refusal to form the government because of the conflict with Mattarella gained such broad publicity. This is a dangerous precedent: what if tomorrow the balance of power in the parliament will change and a majority, ready to take advantage of the situation in their own interests, will emerge?

As for the relations with Russia, both Salvini and Di Maio are very critical of the anti-Russia sanctions. However, a question arises: is the Italian government ready to argue with the European Union on the issue of lifting the sanctions? We only have to wait and see.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.