Short dive into the past. It is the evening of May 27, 2018, two months after the political elections that crowned the M5S and the League, when the telephone of Carlo Cottarelli it rings. There is on the handset Sergio Mattarella, definitely irritated by the turn the consultations are taking. Salvini and Di Maio agree to create a government led by Giuseppe Conte. But there is no green light from the Quirinale on the names of ministers. The parties would like Paolo Savona, a professor critical of the euro, at the head of Via XX Settembre. And Mattarella doesn’t want to know. So Giuseppi resigns his mandate, Sergio communicates his “no to anti-euro ministers” to the country and announces that he will soon “take an initiative”. That initiative is called, in fact, Carlo Cottarelli.
Of the short adventure of the former commissioner to the spending review as president in charge you already know a little something. What no one had yet dared to say, however, is that Mattarella actually used Cottarelli to force Di Maio e Salvini to milder advice. Guest of the Industrial Union of Asti for a meeting on the theme “Reforms for growth”, the economist has let himself go to an unpublished story of those excited hours three years ago. Mattarella would have called him to Palazzo Chigi to “put pressure” on Salvini and Di Maio to make an agreement and above all to adapt to the Colle’s requests: either they accepted, or they lost everything. Do you remember? After the initial tear, the M5S even talked about impeachment against the President, a symptom that the Quirinale’s moves had bothered the high grilline spheres not a little. “My government was needed to go to the elections”, Cottarelli added in front of the industrialists gathered by the president Andrea Amalberto. The rest of the story is well known: Cottarelli contacts possible ministers, the markets react tepid, the parties come to milder advice and the “people’s advocate” is called to form his first government.
Also for this role in the recent Roman vicissitudes, Cottarelli must be considered a person informed on the facts of politics. In recent weeks the race to the Quirinale, and the economist an idea of how it will turn out if he did it. “If I had to bet, I would say that it is more likely that we will go to elections next spring”, he said in the splendid picture of Palazzo Ottolenghi in Asti. So, in essence, the scenario would be this: Draghi elected president, loose chambers and early urns. Cottarelli is convinced that the premier has a desire to climb the most prestigious hill in Rome: “I don’t know what he’s up to, but something he didn’t say suggests that he wants to go to the Quirinale soon enough.” To say: “When he went to Parliament to ask for trust, he did not use the usual phrase ‘my government wants to reach the end of the legislature”. Few words to the wise. And then, in recent months he has never denied the rumors about his candidacy. “Draghi would take little to reassure everyone”, Cottarelli reasoned. But he never did.
According to Cottarelli, his election would help to fit several pieces of the puzzle: the center right, the economist reasons, by electing SuperMario he would be able to capitalize on the votes promised by the polls; the League could finally close the governist era, stopping the bleeding of votes; and with the former banker at the Quirinale a possible center-right government would have “a protection against the possible skepticism of the EU towards an Italy led by those who have been sovereign”. Take, for example, the Pnrr: the plan envisages conditions regarding qualitative (in the first three years) and quantitative (for the other three) objectives. The former, Cottarelli explained to the industrialists, are generic and therefore acceptance by the EU will greatly depend on the “subjective, and therefore political, judgment” that will be given by Brussels. If at Palazzo Chigi there is a government “with good relations with Europe”, then “the EU will turn a blind eye and the money will arrive anyway.” to overcome this political problem, but no one knows better than Cottarelli that whoever enters the conclave as Pope often leaves it as a cardinal.