Italy: Sergio Mattarella, the wise old man in the storm

His New Year’s speech broke audience records, Sergio Mattarella is today, with almost 70% of favorable opinions, the most popular politician in Italy. Who would have thought, when he was elected five years ago, that he would become a great President of the Republic? As La Botte lives its most critical moment since the end of the war, this 79-year-old Palermitan is the undisputed recourse of a political class in disarray. Despite its limited powers, it indeed plays a crucial role: that of arbiter of the – incessant – political crises which shake the country.

From the failure of Matteo Renzi’s government at the end of 2016, nothing works. The parties succeed one another in power, forming unnatural coalitions: the 5 Star Movement joins forces with Matteo Salvini’s League, then it spawns with the Democrats … The last “team” has just exploded on January 26, after sixteen months of disrupted governance. Challenging the President of the Council, Giuseppe Conte, Matteo Renzi and his small party Italia Viva left the alliance in power, depriving it of the narrow majority which allowed him – somehow – to govern. And that’s when the President of the Republic comes on the scene. Impartial, he cannot impose anything, but can influence decisions. In the negotiations that characterize this culture of coalition specific to Italy, the president becomes, if he is clever, a pivot in the construction of the government. Worse, he can whistle the end of the game and call for new elections.

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