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Italy: Perplexed by the right turn

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Status: 07/30/2022 04:41

The Italian right can hope to get the most votes in the two-month snap legislative elections. The centre-left, on the other hand, is still looking for a recipe. But the old squabbles continue to have an effect.

By Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Studio Rome

He is the man many are now turning to in Rome when it comes to asking: how do we prevent a rightward shift in the snap election? Enrico Letta, leader of the social-democratic PD, tries to define the electoral strategy of the centre-left camp.

The Italians, he says, must be absolutely clear that this is a decision ‘between us and Meloni’. There are only these options and “no third way”.

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the post-fascist “Brothers of Italy” party, as Prime Minister – Letta wants as many centre-left parties as possible to rally behind this mission. Meloni is currently leading the polls with the ‘Brothers of Italy’.

No alliance in sight

Opponents on the right are still far from a common line. With less than two months to go before the elections, it is unclear which parties will join a common alliance led by the PD.

We also do not know who the centre-left wants to present as future Prime Minister. The respectable but colorless Letta just wants to be the leader of his party.

And what about the dream candidate?

The dream candidate of the center-left camp is not available: Mario Draghi, whose opponents of Meloni would like to continue the work, will serve as executive director of the government of national unity until the elections. A role that does not allow Draghi to campaign for a political camp.

Nevertheless, some on the center-left are trying to harbor hopes that if Draghi wins the election, they can persuade him to continue.

Carlo Calenda, another important figure in the centre-left camp these days, says there is “one person who needs to be brought into the post of prime minister” – Draghi. And he promises that if the centre-left wins the elections, Draghi will be “locked with the key in the prime minister’s office”.

Self-confident – but still little encouragement

The very confident Calenda is a liberal, was a member of the Social Democrats, Minister of Economic Development and director at Ferrari. While Letta’s PD is trading at just under 23% in the polls – just behind the Italian right-wing brothers – the Calenda-led “Azione” (together with another small party) is just 5%.

But Calenda, master of provocative proposals, is considered a good campaigner and could appeal to centrist voters. However, negotiations between him and the Social Democrats on an electoral alliance have stalled.

Renzi continues to polarize

The same goes for former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his Italia Viva party. Personal conflicts continue to have an impact here – Renzi ousted Letta as prime minister in 2014 in order to become head of government himself. Social Democrats have reservations about Renzi’s polarization.

He reacts with irritation, saying he “fought against everyone” to replace former Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte with Draghi. Alliances, says Renzi, don’t interest him, it’s “the ideas” that matter to him.” After all, he could also compete alone.

Enrico Letta has no ambition for the post of Prime Minister…

Image: Reuters

…. and Matteo Renzi also rejects the idea that alliances are important to him.

Image: Reuters

Unity is rewarded

However, Italy’s current electoral system rewards alliances. Most seats are allocated using a first-past-the-post system. Political unity is necessary to win, and the centre-left is far from it at the moment.

According to polls, the right-wing alliance of Meloni’s ‘Brothers of Italy’, Matteo Salvini’s ‘Lega’ and Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘Forza Italia’ is currently in the lead – ten percentage points ahead on the social democrats and their potential allies.

Which no longer includes the five-star movement of ex-Prime Minister Conte. After the Five Stars helped overthrow Draghi, Letta and the PD cut ties with the populists.

Draghi himself has so far stayed out of the election campaign which is just beginning. After the experiences of recent weeks, commentators in Rome believe it is almost impossible that he will be called upon to do his duty again after the election.

The center-left in Italy at random in the face of the imminent shift to the right

Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Rome, 29.7.2022 09:39

Source www.tagesschau.de

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