5SM-League Contract: Prelude to Government or Not?

For the foreign press, ‘the new barbarians are inside the walls of Rome’

The yellow-green alliance is by now a matter of fact. Indeed, the leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, has finally been able to convince the far-right politician Matteo Salvini to sign a government contract and bring his party, the Northern League, into a coalition that should represent Italian citizens for the next five years. After the failed third round of consultations, Silvio Berlusconi gave the green light to the coalition, although making clear that he will never support this government.

The breakthrough came just before the disruptive news from the court of Milan: the Forza Italia leader is eligible again. Berlusconi was convicted in 2012 for tax fraud and again in 2013, when a final judgment sentenced his revocation from the role of senator. However, a few days ago, a new judgment ruled that the controversial former Italian Prime Minister is newly cleared. Declarations and felicitations from his allies did not take long, as Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini expressed their rejoicing for the court decision.

The government contract

Nevertheless, the Italian political scenario appears to be still unstable and no official declarations have been issued yet. However, the two Five Star Movement and Northern League leaders developed the common government contract aimed at laying down agreement on specific issues more than ‘names’, as the two leaders declared. In this forty-page draft, the chapter on Italexit is no longer envisioned, while it tackles vaccines, flat tax, Fornero law, public debt and relations with Russia. More nebolous the points about the citizens’ income and the conflict of interest.

Apart from the common program, more concretely Salvini and Di Maio would obtain a Ministry each. Nonetheless, the crux of the matter is still without a resolution: who will be the next Italian Prime Ministers? In the last few days, several names have been made, but I believe that the two politicians will be able to snack all of us up. Among the figures appeared on the press, there are Elisabetta Belloni, Secretary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Michele Geraci, economist and supporter of the citizens’ income.

New barbarians inside the walls of Rome

Moreover, what made a lot of dust in the last hours was the recent Financial Time article, where Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio were depicted as ‘barbarians’: ‘now the barbarians are not merely massing at the gates of Rome. They are inside the city walls.’ The FT was not being gentle with the possible next leaders of the Italian government. However, it is actually true that some of their future policies are worrying many international actors, one among all the European Union, which asked Italy to act carefully towards the Stability Pact and the new migration policy. Indeed, one of the most arduous tasks for this government would in fact be to change those economic measures imposing the so much contested austerity policies, such as the ‘Fornero Law‘, the pension system reform that Mario Monti’s government approved in 2011, to avoid a likely economic collapse.

Therefore, the widespread economic concerns are more than legitimate. Especially because, what still stands out in the program, is the Five Stars’ policy aimed at guaranteeing the monthly income for the poor, as well as the League’s request for drastic income tax cuts in an overall simplified tax system. In addition, changing the extent of Italy’s commitments with Europe could lead to an extremely dangerous and costly diplomatic unrest that the already in danger State coffers might not be able to bare.

Little choice

The last word has yet to be said, as the two political forces struggled to find an agreement on some sensitive issues such as migration, the public debt and above all, the future Prime Minister. If they do not reach a more structured agreement soon on these key points, the whole contract could fail and the country would be called to vote again. Given the high costs that the implementation of this agreement would imply, I cannot really say which of the two options is honestly better.