Draghi at the Quirinale, a puzzle that touches the European balance

Draghi at the Quirinale, a puzzle that touches the European balance
Draghi at the Quirinale, a puzzle that touches the European balance

The Quirinale match will only open at the beginning of January, but it has been holding court for weeks now. Not only in the public debate, but above all in the much more reserved and inaccessible one of the party secretariats. A complex challenge, characterized by the snare of a secret vote that has made famous victims over the years. The last, in chronological order, was Romano Prodi in 2013. Trying to schematize and using a football comparison, we could hypothesize a “triple” of scenarios to imagine how the challenge that will end after the Epiphany will involve the 1,009 great voters who they will make up the constituency destined to elect the President of the Republic (630 deputies, 315 senators plus 6 for life and 58 regional delegates). The first scenario – already mentioned – is that of a Mattarella bis. This is followed by the hypothesis that Mario Draghi could instead be climbing the steep path of the Colle. Only once these two possibilities have been archived, there will be room for the third way. That of the outsiders.

The candidacy of the former ECB number one, however, is a solution considered almost obvious until not even a year ago. But that since Draghi sits in Palazzo Chigi has had many drawbacks. As for the Mattarella bis, also in this case the premise that it is a scenario on which the real wishes of the person concerned will have a decisive weight. This is an assumption that is difficult to evaluate. It is clear, in short, that if the premier were strongly intent on taking flight to the Quirinale, it will be difficult for politics – which not even a year ago called him to solve the country’s problems with an almost Bulgarian vote of confidence – to tell him to no.

The theme of what Draghi wants to do is therefore central. So much so that only two days ago, in the first press conference after the summer break, he was asked for a comment on the subject. The premier’s response was piqued: “I find this fact of thinking of the Quirinale as another possibility a bit offensive, also offensive to the current President of the Republic”. But he certainly did not close the door to the hypothesis of his possible passage to the Colle. Scenario on which even his ministers are divided. There is one of Forza Italia, to say, which assures various interlocutors that “Draghi is determined to go to the Quirinale”. While two other government officials – one from the Democratic Party and another from the League – are instead convinced that the prime minister wants to stay where he is. The confirmation, in short, that there are no certainties on the real intentions of the former ECB number one. Similarly, if at Palazzo Chigi everyone maintains that the Prime Minister is “perfectly at ease in the role he covers” and “completely absorbed” by both the “Recovery plan chapter” and “international dossiers”, right on Colle c ‘ instead it is those who are beginning to think that Draghi – and especially the “draghisti” – would not mind a “promotion” to the Quirinale at all.

What is certain is that the former governor of Bank of Italy seems to be moving with great ease today, especially on the international scene, which is more congenial to him also for history. It has already been said several times, however, that the economic situation of recent months is favorable as never before for Draghi. Which has all the credentials to aspire to become the strong voice of Europe. Not only for the curriculum and the esteem that all the interlocutors (including the American administration) recognize, but also because Angela Merkel is now out, while Emmanuel Macron is all taken up by next year’s presidential elections. Not to mention the moment of great weakness of Joe Biden, who could look favorably on a Draghi with a central role in Europe. A path that the premier can think of taking from Palazzo Chigi, certainly not from the Quirinale. Unless you want to attempt a sort of de facto transition to a semi-presidential Republic. Unlikely, but not impossible. Just think of the ECB presidency. It is true that those were the times of the euro crisis that led to the now famous “whatever it takes”, but the current leadership of Christine Lagarde certifies that from that chair it was not at all so obvious – as happened to Draghi – to become a personality of international standing.

Moreover, it is precisely the European scenario that somehow seems to push the premier to stay at Palazzo Chigi. If the former ECB number one went to Colle, in fact, it would be difficult to defuse the early elections. Preventive guarantee agreements could be attempted, putting on the table possible prime ministers such as the “technicians” Daniele Franco or Marta Cartabia (in reality, the prices of the Keeper of the Seals are significantly down after the mess over the justice reform). But it is not clear why, at that point, the parties that would like to go to the vote – Fdi in the front row, but also the Lega and a Giuseppe Conte who can’t wait to redesign the M5s parliamentary groups – should agree to vote for Draghi al Colle.

In short, if the former ECB number one is truly elected president of the Republic, it is highly probable that Italy will go to the polls for politics between March and May. A fact that is very agitating both Brussels and Washington, given that in the coming months Europe could undergo a real revolution in its equilibrium, with the risk of great instability. In Germany, in fact, the vote is held on September 26 and at the moment an “Italian” scenario is in the offing, with polls giving three parties – SPD, CDU and Verdi – around 20% and the most disparate majority hypotheses. In France, on the other hand, the presidential elections will be held in 2022, but the road to a reconfirmation of Macron at the Elysée is by no means downhill. An overall picture that raises fear for the stability of the Old Continent and in which many hope that at least Italy is in a solid condition and certainly not struggling with an electoral campaign. A wish that the EU could decline by simply pointing out with the Italian guarantee of the loans arrived with the Recovery fund is the Mattarella-Draghi axis. And that these are the interlocutors with whom they want to continue to interact to ensure the effective disbursement of funds.

To all these reasons, add those who point out – a minister of the League – the risks inherent in a quirinal candidacy of the current prime minister. That if for some reason it does not go well – see Prodi in 2013 – it could irreparably compromise the stability of the government. If the former ECB number one ended up in the Colle raffle and did not come out as the winner, there is no doubt that his role and weight would be reduced. This would not necessarily lead to a government crisis, of course. But instability – moreover with the vote on the agenda in 2023 – would be upon us.

(2 of 3 – Continued)

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