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March 29, 2023

Italian parliament fails to establish coalition

M5S says no chance of rebels backing Bersani, decision not to back centre left taken unanimously.

The 5-Star Movement (M5S) said Wednesday that there was no chance of a government proposed by centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani winning a confidence vote in parliament with the help of rebel lawmakers from the anti-establishment group, Italian news agency ANSA reports.The centre left managed to get its candidate, former national anti-Mafia prosecutor Pietro Grasso, elected Senate Speaker earlier this month after some M5S members in the Upper House defied party orders and voted for him. But M5S Senate whip Vito Crimi ruled out the possibility that a similar rebellion would enable a Bersani-led administration to be born. “In that case (of Grasso) the decision was not taken unanimously, it was a majority (vote in the parliamentary party,” Crimi said after meeting Bersani.“Yesterday there was a united vote and unanimity (to vote against a Bersani government)”. Deutsche Welle reports that Beppe Grillo, head of the Five Star Movement, said in an interview with German television, “The word ‘govern’ bothers me.” In his view, the established parties of both the left and the right are all equally bad – this is the reason he gives for not entering into a coalition with either. “There will be no consensus,” Grillo said.Grillo himself, although his party received 25 percent of the parliamentary vote, is prevented by the protest movement’s statutes from serving in parliament. The newly minted parliamentarians of the movement, the “grillini” – which in Italian means “little crickets,” as well as being a play on Grillo’s name – settled in to their new positions under the attentive interest of the media.“We’ll give the citizens their institutions back,” said Roberto Fico, a Five Star presidential candidate.

To the fresh parliamentarians, all other politicians are a bunch of freeloaders. Senator Vito Crimi, the Five Star Movement’s party speaker, called his own party “a bunch of crazies.”Pier Luigi Bersani of the social democrats – which claims a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, but not in the Senate – sought nearly desperately to ally with the grillini, in order to gain at least a minority government. But despite an appeal from leftist intellectuals, Grillo rejected Bersani’s overtures.

Although the grillini appear to want to decide policy on a case-by-case basis, Italy can only gain a prime minister through a vote of confidence in both the upper and lower houses of parliament. But social democratic parliamentarian Aniello Fornisano said that at the moment, this remains a “very difficult” proposal.Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative party is already seeking new elections. With Berlusconi himself in the hospital with an eye infection, his deputy Angelino Alfano peremptorily named June for the new election date. Although Alfano is the national secretary of the conservative “People of Freedom” party, he lacks the political power to craft a governing coalition himself. Berlusconi is therefore apparently flirting with the idea of forming a “grand coalition” between the conservatives and leftists – the most recent such coalition broke apart last December. Whether he can again become prime minister remains unknown. Outgoing President Giorgio Napolitano has sought to begin consultations for establishing a government as set out in the constitution.Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, whose centrist coalition performed poorly in the elections, may end up staying in office for a while.

Monti spent some time seeking to clarify the tricky situation in Rome to European Union leaders, who are nervous at Italy’s financial chaos, at an EU summit in Brussels this past week.Interest on Italian national debt rose only slightly during the election. Italy’s central bank announced on Friday that its debt would reach a billion euros by 2022 – a new record.Since Napolitano’s term as president ends on May 15, the Italian parliament has only two short months to resolve its deadlock. After the formidable task of choosing Napolitano’s successor, the party blocs – aside from the grillinis – will aim to reform election laws before dissolution of the parliament. This is something from which they’ve profited in the past.

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