The former provincial lawyer, Giuseppe Conte is once again premier-designate of another Italian government. He has already set out his rhetorical stall for his second term of office.
Without a blush he describes himself as “The Premier of the New”, while a little over a year ago, as he assumed the same role in the Lega Nationale — 5 Star government, he presented himself as the “Minister of Change”.
Up to a week ago he would have happily continued to serve La Lega of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Witness his ready signature to the Minister’s draconian security laws licensing the mass drowning of refugees in the Mediterranean and the summary gaoling of peaceful protesters.
Then Salvini — in the grip of his Bonapartist illusions (“I am asking the Italian people to invest me with full powers”) — dumped Conte. He called for a vote of no confidence after Conte’s request that Salvini should come before parliament to explain why he, in the company of a notorious veteran neo-Nazi, had not so long ago been in Moscow arranging a billion euro energy deal with the Russians from which the Lega would pocket a 65 million euro sweetener.
Democratic Party secretary Nicola Zingaretti, a man of the so called “progressive” wing of the Italian bourgeoisie, assured Salvini that he too wanted new elections. Zingaretti opposed those within his party, notably the factions around Matteo Renzi (premier 2014-6), who wanted to form a new coalition government with Luigi Di Maio and Five Star.
But then Conte went on the attack against Salvini, announced a decision to resign, and offered himself as a candidate to serve in a new government led by the DP.
As opinion polls showed acclaim for this unexpected puncturing of the Salvini bubble, the pressure on the DP leader and those who surrounded him became impossible to resist, especially from Sergio Mattarella, the country’s president and from the representatives of big capital and the chancelleries of Europe.
Di Maio had picked out the then literally unknown Conte as premier for the Lega — 5 Star coalition.
Di Maio assuming Conte would be biddable for his benefactor. But Conte had set his sights higher than mere “office boy”. Conte has pointedly refused Di Maio any position of authority on his new ship of state.
Di Maio had one last card to play — a vote (3 September) via Five Star’s online platform Rousseau on the new government proposal.
The brainchild of Davide Casaleggio and the comic Beppe Grillo, this platform renders real membership of Five Star, the numbers actually participating, and the validity of the exercise impossible to evaluate. Those around Casaleggio are totally opposed to the stitch-up with the DP. However, the result (4 Sep) was 79.3% for the DP coalition.
Such is the cultural and moral temper of Italy’s prospective new government. It is a committee of the business affairs of capital populated by charlatans, armed each against each in a war driven on by the logic of clan warfare and ruthless personal ambition.
The rise of a nobody like Conte is the perfect lesson in what the Italians call “trasformismo”.
The script for the next act is already written. The reactionary Right of Salvini and Meloni will go for demagogic denunciation of “trasformismo” against the new government, and announce that they will rouse the masses in the streets.
The government will suppress all calls for action against the reactionaries, further implicating the already feeble and compromised Italian left as aiders and abetters of careerism. A rising racist surge has suffered a setback, but one not inflicted by a class-conscious proletariat.
The decision by Salvini to turn to the masses could allow him pose before the people as the only champion of real opposition to the crime of “trasformismo”.