The ghost of Matteo Renzi visits Giorgia Meloni | International

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The Prime Minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, was visited by a ghost during the night of the dead. The specter had the appearance of Matteo Renzi, he spoke like the former president and warned him about the fatal fate they could share: a death by referendum. Last Friday, Meloni approved the design of the law to carry out a restructuring of the Constitution that allows for strengthening the power of the prime minister in Italy and combating the country's political instability in recent years (Italy has had 32 prime ministers, who have formed 68 Governments since 1946, when the Republic was established). The true scope is not yet clear, because it will have to be discussed in Parliament and the Executive will have to seek the maximum possible consensus. It is, however, that it must be approved through a referendum. The same vehicle that Renzi used in December 2016 and that ended a mandate—and a career—that seemed indestructible. A referendum in Italy, especially at a time of polarization, can easily turn into a plebiscite on the head of government.

Upon his arrival, Meloni promised great transformations that, over time, have become timid proposals. It happened in immigration, in the economy, in labor policies... Exactly the same thing happened with the one that was to establish a French-style semi-presidential system in Italy. The prime minister wanted to reduce the role of the head of state and strengthen, in return, that of the prime minister. The idea had to be accompanied by the direct election of the President of the Republic and a constitutional reform of unfathomable significance. The plan was not liked by the Quirinal presidential palace, whose tenant is currently Sergio Mattarella. And neither to the constitutionalists consulted. And the project has ended up becoming what the Executive has called a strengthening of the prime minister.

No one in Italy doubts that such reform, which many prime ministers have attempted before, must be undertaken to put an end to the turbulent nature of Italian politics. The Government's idea now is to give a certain stability to the next Executives through a system of direct election of the president of the Council of Ministers. That is, the coalition candidate who wins the elections will have 55% of the seats in Parliament: an absolute majority assigned by the mere fact of winning. A system that, in the countries that use it, is normally associated with an election with a second round. It will not be like that in Italy, and that already raises certain doubts. Also in the citizens who, according to the survey published by The print This Sunday, he turns his back on the plan: only four out of 10 Italians support it.

Furthermore, Meloni's reform wants to put an end to the eternal changes of government in the same five-year period. The plan now says that there can only be two prime ministers in each legislature: if the first falls, a second can be elected from the same majority that won the elections. If he also had to resign, new elections should be called immediately. The paradox is that, knowing the fragility of Italian politics, it would always be better to be the second prime minister of the legislature to have more strength. “As the opposition is divided, they believe that this is how they will shore up their power. If not, they would have put in a double shift. It is absurd that without an absolute majority you can have 55%,” says Stefano Ceccanti, professor of Constitutional Law.

Without a majority to ratify it

The right-wing coalition, led by the ultra Meloni, has enough majority to implement the constitutional reform, which changes four points of the articles of the fundamental norm and also eliminates the appointment of senators for life, although the current and former presidents remain. of the Republic. The problem is that, since it does not have a majority of more than two-thirds of the Chamber, it will have to be ratified through a referendum, just as Renzi also had to do. “Of course, it can happen to you like it happened to [Silvio] Berlusconi and Renzi that, after approving it only with the majority, polarize the country and could later lose it in a referendum. But it is also true that Meloni arouses less aversion. So, everyone who was not Renzian hated him. Less happens with her,” says Ceccanti.

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Meloni explained his project on Friday, which he described as the “mother of all reforms.” “Our goal is to guarantee that whoever is elected by the people can govern during a legislature,” she said. For the prime minister, it is the only way that whoever is “elected at the polls can have an entire legislature on the horizon and carry out its project and guarantee stability.” Meloni stressed that in recent years Italy has had nine prime ministers and 12 governments. “Either Italian politicians are worse than French or German politicians, which I don't think, or it is the system that is wrong.” The only thing that is clear, as the leader of the 5 Star Movement, Giuseppe Conte, announced on Saturday, is that the opposition will not support it and will have to be risked in a referendum.

Meloni's reform also means the end of another classic of Italian politics: the technical prime minister. A profile that recurrently emerges in times of crisis, as occurred when the former president of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi put together an Executive with that character in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, in 2021; or when Mario Monti was appointed in 2011 after the fall of Berlusconi during the financial crisis and a risk premium that put Italy in check. Furthermore, it will also not be possible to return to experiences like the one led by Conte, a lawyer who did not stand in the elections (he was not even a Parliamentarian) and became prime minister as a figure of consensus between the League and the 5 Star Movement in 2018. “ This will end the technocratic or rainbow governments,” Meloni announced. An idea that Renzi also had in mind in 2016 and that the volcanic nature of the country returned to him in the form of a guillotine.

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