The man who in February 2019 was pointed out by Guy Verhostadt, in the Chamber of the European Parliament, as the “puppet” of Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, the following year took the helm of Italy invaded by Covid-19. This data would be enough to describe the parable of Giuseppe Conte, the Apulian lawyer and teacher called by the M5S to be minister for the PA, who became premier of the most populist government in Italian history and able to resist the reversal of Papeete by remaining at the helm of a executive M5S-Pd-Iv-Leu.
That executive which, on September 5th, turns one year old. On the same day, 365 days ago, the Conte II government swore in front of President Sergio Mattarella after 24 hours earlier, the premier appointed by the Quirinale had dissolved the reserve.
If there is a minimum common denominator between Count I and Count II it is the “lively” context that surrounded Palazzo Chigi. Suffice it to say that, in the same hours in which the Giallorossi swore, Matteo Renzi actually formalized his exit from the Democratic Party and the next foundation of Italia Viva, transforming the executive from a tri-party to a four-party.
But Conte, after having taken on the role of “arbiter” between M5S and Lega and mediator between an “adverse” Europe and the yellow-green on the maneuver of the people, in the meantime had changed his attitude. Creating its own inner circle and, above all, a very high consensus.
It is the government of the thorny dossiers, Count II. From the former Ilva to Autostrade, from Alitalia to the large broadband plan that involves Cdp, Tim and, perhaps, even Mediaset. But the Conte II government is, first of all, the one that led Italy during the coronavirus storm. On 21 February, the first outbreak was identified in Codogno. Since that day, Conte’s parable has changed radically. The premier chose to take the reins of the emergency. Exposing oneself, even in the media. Attracting the ire of the opposition, the skepticism of the allies, but also the attention of all Italians.
His press conferences, in the evening, on updates on the lockdown, have become a central appointment of politics and the world of social media. “History will judge us”, Conte will say at the beginning of Phase 2, repelling the attacks of the center-right in Parliament. Certainly, his government has come to limit rights and freedoms as it had never happened in the second postwar period. And, at the same time, he managed to transform the country into what foreign leaders and international media define as a “model” in the fight against the virus.
However, all this did not stabilize the executive. The cross between referendum and regional is destined to bring the majority back into the storm. The “unresolved” relationship between Conte and the M5S, with a Movement de facto without leadership, will not help calm the waters. The premier, on his side, has a “victory” to claim: the 209 billion agreed by the EU with the Recovery Fund. And the recovery plan that he wants to bring to Brussels by 15 September is for the head of the government at the same time a challenge and a “wild card” to be put in place against any crisis.
At the moment, the Conte II government is the 35th longest in the history of the Republic. It has beaten “excellent” opponents such as the Forlani government, the Moro I government and, more recently, the executive of Enrico Letta.
The former People’s Advocate has no intention of stopping his run, perhaps also counting on the assiduity of relations with the head of state. And by focusing on a canvas of international relations which, in the sign of a geopolitical pragmatism often accused of transformism, sees him close to Donald Trump but also to Angela Merkel.