Rome program adapts to change in Italian government

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Photo courtesy of the UD Rome Program

This article’s headline and content have been edited to reflect developments in this story.

On Jan. 26 the prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, resigned from his position, an action that triggered the fall of the government and a nationwide scramble to assemble a new one. 

Former prime minister Matteo Renzi was integral in provoking Conte’s resignation, Dean and Director of the Rome program Dr. Peter Hatlie explained in an email to The University News. 

As the prime minister from 2014-2016, Renzi was a part of the Italian Democratic Party, but he broke away to begin his own political party: Italia Viva. While Italia Viva is small in number, its members held influential seats in Conte’s parliament that he needed in order to maintain his majority. 

“Some say that Renzi pulled out just to make himself look more important and powerful than he is, whereas others see it as a useful correction on a government that was not directly elected by election but rather was nominated as a caretaker government about a year ago,” Hatlie wrote. 

Now, Conte has resigned because Renzi pulled Italia Viva out of the government, only returning if Conte accepted his list of demands, according to an article published by BBC. 

On Feb. 13, Mario Draghi was sworn in as the new prime minister. Draghi, the former head of the Italian national bank and the European Central Bank, “is considered to be pro-business, a kind of fixer for the ailing Italian economy,” according to Hatlie. 

Dr. Anthony Nussmeier, associate professor of Italian, explained, “Since the decision to appoint him technocratic prime minister, polls have shown that more than 60% of Italians have a favorable opinion of Draghi. Many―though of course not all―of my Italian friends and acquaintances have lauded the choice and have great respect for Draghi’s many accomplishments.” 

However, there is not a clear indication of how his new government will change the current COVID-19 restrictions in Italy. Hatlie explained that some suspect he will favor reopening Italy, regardless of the potential risk of increasing COVID numbers, but there are also people in the inner circle of his government who are calling for a complete lockdown of Italy to completely get rid of the virus and allow the vaccination to stabilize the country. 

“In the short term, Draghi’s compromise government is unlikely to change much in the way of COVID-19 policies. In the week since he was sworn in officially, Draghi has pursued the preexisting, color-coded approach to restrictions,” Nussmeier explained.

The implications of this new government on Due Santi are still unknown. In the middle of March, there should be a clearer indication as the government determines its next steps and the vaccine program continues to advance. 

Despite the uncertainties, Hatlie is hopeful that “we still should be okay to fulfill the promise of this semester to a significant degree.” 

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