KShortly after the attack on the Capitol, a video sequence with Matteo Renzi from 2016 appeared on social media in Italy. It shows the chairman of the Italia Viva party, then Italian Prime Minister, in a conversation with the BBC. Renzi is known for his lack of talent in foreign languages. Seldom has he demonstrated it more impressively than in this interview on Brexit: “First reaction, shock!” Is one of his comments. The sequence immediately went viral and was used in numerous ironic videos about what was going on in Washington. Nobody laughs about it anymore. Ever since Renzi plunged the Italian government into crisis last Wednesday, ‘First reaction, shock!’ for many Italians it has become a household word with which they describe their own mood. However, her state of shock is persistent.
How can it be that not only the political leadership of the United States, but also that of Italy, is splitting at the most dramatic moment in recent history, instead of working together responsibly to overcome the crisis? Asks the weekly political magazine “L’Espresso” and its current cover shows the protagonist of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” against the background of the American and Italian flags. In Italy, the personal feud between Prime Minister Conte and Renzi was stronger than any call for responsibility on the part of the president and public opinion, says Marco Damilano, editor-in-chief of “L’Espresso”. He attests to the two “total disregard, if not outright contempt, of the audience”. The so-called spectators, i.e. the Italian voters, are used to government crises. However, according to the magazine, seven out of ten Italians consider the current situation to be completely negligent.
Indeed, the gap between the concerns of politics and those of the citizens has never been greater. And it has never been more difficult to analyze the cause of the crisis by conventional means. Every day the Italian media report on new meannesses that one of the two fighters or their supporters are said to have made about the other. More than ever, people want to know how European money is being spent, how public investments can be made productive or new jobs can be created. They don’t get any answers to any of this. Instead, the political happening resembles an early evening series, the happiness of which lies in the mystery of the protagonists and the absolute senselessness of the plot. When Conte invokes “the dignity of office” and Renzi melodramatically counters with “patriotism”, then that is only a source of amusement for many Italians. Nevertheless, they continue to follow the media coverage as if hypnotized. The helplessness felt in the face of the global threat has given way to fascination with the wickedness in the government palace and its back rooms. The cinemas and theaters are closed. Instead, there is now a show from Rome that is virtually followed live while the pandemic kills hundreds of people every day, restricts personal freedoms, increases fear of poverty and imposes ethical decisions on doctors about who can be saved and who Not.
The newspaper “La Repubblica” sees the reason for this paradox primarily in the simultaneity of the events: “It has nothing to do with the orchestra on the Titanic, which continues to play after the ship has already hit the iceberg: Here it sinks, and the officers on board are fighting, not to get to the lifeboats, but because one of them had the idea of having a mud fight, ”one comment said. There is a narrative force in the political crisis that seduces journalists and their audiences alike. After eleven long months in which the day’s events were exclusively determined by the gloomy script of the pandemic, the political tussle finally promises a change.
Even the greatest self-promoters in Italian politics had to take a back seat. Now they have returned to the stage with undisguised joy and the old programming scheme has been renewed. The role of the villain has long been identified in the reporting: The already low popularity of Matteo Renzi has reached an all-time low.