Given the current state of the global economy, Brexit, and economic stagnation within the European Union, it is unclear what sort of impact this crisis has had on Italy’s economy. Certainly, it has aggravated economic factors (e.g., the spread), investor confidence, etc., but Italy’s economic stagnation precedes this crisis and this government.
Piero Garofalo is the Associate Professor of Italian Studies and Core Faculty of Cinema Studies at the University of New Hampshire, USA, Piero Garofalo earned his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, and teaches in areas of Italian film, history of film, European cultural studies, and Italian studies. His publications include two books on film, Re-viewing Fascism: Italian Cinema, 1922-1943 and Ciak…si parla italiano, as well as numerous articles and book chapters. His recent work in film has focused on the role of film in nation building, the Italian film industry under Fascism, film pedagogy, theoretical challenges to auteurism, and filmic adaptations.
ILNA: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte handed in his resignation on Tuesday after accusing his interior minister, Matteo Salvini, of putting his League party before the needs of Italy. Who is really to blame for the crisis we are witnessing in the political domain of Italy? Can President Sergio Mattarella find a solution to this political crisis?
Italy’s political system is designed intentionally to limit the power of government, so the collapse of this coalition is not necessarily a negative, but rather a confirmation that the system works. That said, the blame for the escalating tensions within the leadership of the coalition government (Conte, Di Maio, Salvini) and its collapse rest with Salvini, who interpreted the European Parliament elections as a sign that his party would improve its standing if general elections were held soon.
President Sergio Mattarella has three options: he will first provide an opportunity for a new coalition government to form. Achieving a majority coalition government is feasible, but it would probably require an alliance between the Five Star Movement M5S) and the center-left Democratic Party (PD)—internal factions within both parties are resistant to such an arrangement. The possibility that Matteo Salvini leads a new coalition government seems even less likely since the possible alliance options for a coalition government are even less probable. If those coalitions fail to materialize, then, President Mattarella could install an interim government along the lines of Mario Monti’s technocratic government (16 November 2011 – 28 April 2013). If these should fail, then President Mattarella will be forced to dissolve parliament and call for new general elections. Although Mattarella has asked the parties to form a new government, he has given them very little time (two days) to do so. Mattarella appears to be leaning toward forming a caretaker government.
ILNA: Matteo Salvini, who has not withdrawn his ministers, said on Tuesday he was ready to keep the government alive to approve a tax-cutting 2020 budget. But some experts say that passing budgets is outside the powers of a caretaker government. Do you think the 2020 budget will have a happy end?
As for the 2020 budget, it will certainly be passed, but it will differ from the one Salvini is currently hoping to approve. President Mattarella does not seem enthusiastic at the prospect of an M5S-PD coalition and has granted the parties just two days to form an alternative government majority. Such a time constraint makes it more likely that Mattarella will install a caretaker government to pass the budget and to block a Value-Added Tax (VAT) increase—it is currently 22%, but it is scheduled to increase to 25.2% in 2020—and then hold general elections in the late fall.
ILNA: The most probable combination for the new government would be a tie-up of the 5-Star Movement and the opposition, center-left Democratic Party (PD). What would this new coalition look like?
It would be a difficult relationship. Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of the PD, would essentially partner with Di Maio, and Salvini would no longer serve as deputy prime minister and interior minister. A weak coalition would not serve the PD, so unless Zingaretti is convinced that such a majority government could complete the term, he would favor early elections.
ILNA: How do you assess the result of this crisis on Italy economical state, given the fact that official data released in April showed Italy’s debt grew to 132.2% of the gross domestic product in 2018, the largest ratio in the EU after bailed-out Greece?
Given the current state of the global economy, Brexit, and economic stagnation within the European Union, it is unclear what sort of impact this crisis has had on Italy’s economy. Certainly, it has aggravated economic factors (e.g., the spread), investor confidence, etc., but Italy’s economic stagnation precedes this crisis and this government. While a more stable government would have mitigated some of these negative economic effects, the net negative result is probably within a 0.3% GDP growth range.
Interview by: Kamran Baradaran