Italy’s Power Struggle; Prime Minister Gets Empowered

When Myanmar’s coup d’état has triggered unpredictable and devastating tensions, another power struggle that has lasted for nearly three years in the centre of the Mediterranean is approaching its end. On February 18th, 2021, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi won the vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies, confirming his cabinet as a government of national unity with enough power to take over the governance of COVID-19 and economic recovery.

Italy had faced political turmoil since March 2018 when the general election witnessed unprecedented votes going to an anti-establishment populist party. The election led to a hung parliament. Former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tried two times to form coalitions, but both resulted in weak governments and continuous restructure and sides shifting of political parties. After another party revoked its support, Conte failed to pass the no-confidence vote and resigned on January 13th, 2021, leaving no party or candidate qualified to form a new cabinet. On February 2nd, following many unsuccessful attempts to ally parties, Italian President Sergio Mattarella invited Draghi to form a technocratic government. Draghi’s new cabinet now has gained the vast majority of investiture votes in both chambers (302 to 40 and 535 to 56).

The new cabinet’s landslide victory shows an encouraging sign of a strong government that can lead the country out of the political crisis and economic uncertainty. Draghi’s ability is well-respected. He was at the helm as the President of the European Central Bank during the Eurozone Crisis. Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi commented Draghi as “the Italian who saved Europe” and “the European who can save Italy” in a BBC programme. Draghi’s first speech presents his eagerness in unifying the country: “Today unity is not an option but a duty…It is a duty guided by what I am sure unites us all: love for Italy.”

The premiership of Draghi shows the advantages of being non-political when facing political and economic emergencies. With his neutrality and devotion to emergency managements, Draghi set aside differences, though power struggle between political parties still exists. Comparably, the two Conte’s cabinets were greatly disadvantaged due to power struggles. As an individual, Conte was popular. According to Demos & Pi, he was one of the most appreciated politicians in recent years, but he drowned in political disagreements. His resignation resulted from his struggle with Renzi on economic recovery plans and the control of secret services.

Italy’s experience should be noticed by world leaders, especially those in a political crisis like Myanmar. The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening humanity. It is poisonous to struggle for power at this particular time. It’s hard to eliminate political differences, but it is always possible to shelve them in urgent circumstances. World leaders can learn from the Italian form of a technocratic government, which contains many experts without any political affiliation and is dedicated to solving problems instead of playing around with politics.

Jiannan Luo