Italian politics gave another example of its self-destructive capacity on Tuesday. Also from his obsessive need to reproduce through the breakup. The scene of the fray, this time, was the war in Ukraine and the government’s decision to continue sending weapons to the invaded country. The 5 Star Movement (M5S), however, was discreetly opposed and asked that the decision be voted on in Parliament. For this reason, the one who was its leader and who today holds the position of Foreign Minister opened a public battle that will end, according to some deputies consulted, with his definitive abandonment of the formation. An explosive movement that returns instability to the country and that, fundamentally, constitutes the prelude to the destruction of the anti-system party that he helped found and with which he won the last elections held in Italy.
Luigi Di Maio, born in a village outside Naples 35 years ago, has done more than most politicians his age. He was a watchman at the San Paolo stadium, later helped found an anti-system party, became the youngest vice president of the Chamber of Deputies in history, promised to abolish poverty and embraced Euroscepticism. He then took the reins of the 5 Star Movement, swept the last elections with 33%, was Vice President of the Government and said one thing and the opposite on the vast majority of issues. Today, converted into Foreign Minister of the Government of Mario Draghi, he has decided to leave his party and is preparing to create a new group that will support the Executive and give it the profile —and the ability to survive in the institutions— that the M5S denied it .
Di Maio, who is due to give a press conference tonight to explain the decision that has not yet been officially announced, thus deals an almost mortal blow to his formation, in free fall in the polls and already greatly diminished by the loss of parliamentarians (more than one hundred this legislature). The M5S, led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, once again loses a huge chunk of its human and political capital: including ministers and secretaries of state. But also to a large group of parliamentarians – about 50 – who could not even see Conte. The new group will be called Insieme for the future (Together for the future) and, it is assumed, it will have a pro-European, institutional and moderate vocation. Quite the opposite of the pillars on which Di Maio built the victory in the last elections. The question that many are asking now – including Matteo Salvini, who verbalized it – is whether Di Maio is still entitled to continue being foreign minister.
The official reason for the break is that a group of senators from the M5E had prepared a draft resolution to ask the Executive this Tuesday not to send more weapons to the Ukrainians. The document, which delighted the Russian embassy, was not finally presented at the Senate briefing in which Draghi appeared on Tuesday. But Di Maio took advantage of it to accuse the party of moving away from the values of the European Union and NATO and of “putting Italy’s security at risk.” His words opened the war with his party, which already debated his expulsion on Sunday night. But, in reality, they were just the pretext used for a rupture that had been cooking for weeks in the Sanhedrins. crickets.
The spirit of survival of the parliamentarians on the run also provides some data. The self-imposed rule by the M5S that prohibited their elected officials from holding more than two terms was to be confirmed in the coming days. If applied, several dozen parliamentarians ended their public adventure. And all those parliamentarians and politicians who had reached the highest level of the institutions – also salaries and life pensions that depend on the duration of their mandate – were not willing to go home. This will be your new opportunity.
Di Maio’s decision should also be read as a strategic move at the end of the legislature and in preparation for the next campaign. The next elections will be held, predictably, in the spring of 2023. And there is already a process of building a central space that has had no owner in Italy since the disappearance of the old Christian Democracy. A group of politicians has taken out the calculator and believes that this ideological strip can be decisive in the following elections. Di Maio, the most Christian Democrat of the anti-systems, wants to point in that direction with his new formation.
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The implosion of the M5S, however, now opens a stage of uncertainty and instability that could affect the Executive. The crickets They were until today the largest parliamentary group and the majority partner of the unity government chaired by Mario Draghi. And it is not clear that Giuseppe Conte wants to continue supporting an Executive that he is opposing on issues such as Ukraine and because of which he has seen his party break down once again. Draghi, as is his custom, showed no sign of concern. “Worried about the government? No,” he noted during his appearance in the Senate. The reality is that the implosion of M5S opens a new era. And, above all, it closes a chapter marked by the rise of a party born of citizen discontent and in the process of perishing due to its own anti-system nature.