(Il Sole 24 Ore – S.Folli) The situation is evolving. Until three days ago, Democratic Party leader Pierluigi Bersani was determined to continue on the path of a “government of change”: in a more than legitimate way, he saw himself as the head of the party with the relative majority, which made him the most entitled person to gain enough votes on a government proposal. Until yesterday, that was the argument that Nichi Vendola was still backing. Reality, however, is proving to be way more complex. And for reasons that were not always straightforward.
Bersani’s cards are too weak to guarantee a majority in the Senate: the relationship with the Northern League is groundless, while a possible deal with dissidents from the Five Star Movement is just an illusion. At the same time, the front of those who, from PDL to Monti’s party, would back, at least in theory, a government coalition including Berlusconi, is widening. Berlusconi calls it “governissimo,” a “super government,” but it could be something lighter: perhaps only the first step toward the so-called institutional government that newspapers call “the president’s government.”
Faced with such an apparently inextricable situation, Bersani downplayed the intensity of his words. He no longer says “my government or nothing else.” The temptation to gain time is emerging. Said in a nice and quite ambiguous way, that would mean to “rely on the president.” In other words, that would mean that if Napolitano decided to confer the task of forming a government to someone belonging to the institutional world (and of course the thought here goes to Pietro Grasso, the president of the Senate and the man who recently shot to the top of the political scene), Bersani could breathe a sigh of relief.
Of course Bersani will deny he declined a mandate he had advocated for himself so strongly in the past. He will say it was the president who chose, as in the case of Franco Marini in 2008. However, at this point the question is twofold. First, in the meeting he will have with Bersani, the president will have the right to demand clarity over the plans of the leader of the majority. Secondly, one might wonder whether wasting time serves any purpose. Today the presidents of the House and the Senate said it’s “urgent to give a government to the country.” This is the priority and the two newly elected presidents mirrored the position of the president. Therefore, if Bersani believes he cannot be up to the task, the president could immediately work on an institutional government. The task would be given to someone non-partisan, perhaps able to form a government guaranteed by the president and centered on a few points.
Is the PD willing to accept this? At the moment it doesn’t look like it is, at least not if the price to pay is a political defeat. And here is where things get more complicated. In Bersani’s party there is a dangerous, although marginal, tendency to blame the president for the tension arisen from an unsolvable puzzle, which was perhaps underestimated. Napolitano is thought to be the problem, insted of the actual isolation of the party. Some believe the solution can derive from anticipating the election of the successor to Napolitano (but that’s not possible, unless he resigns.) And an identikit of the new president has been put together, in the secret hopes that he will be more appeasing than Napolitano, and in particular less inclined to contemplate an institutional government or a wide-base government.
If that’s what’s happening, the PD risks being stuck in a dead-end situation. It will be hard to say “no” to a president’s government created by the first half of April. Or to give the impression of boycotting it when Italy needs clear decisions. But it will be even harder to see tensions with the outgoing president emerges.