The President of the Republic opposed the Five Star Movement’s and the League’s permanently aggressive communication with a tight but balanced message
The traditional President of the Republic’s New Year’s Eve speech has been a great success in terms of audience. Ten and a half million Italians followed Sergio Mattarella’s message, with an increase in audience of 40 percent compared to the previous occasion. Indeed, 2018 was not a simple year for Italian politics.
A rough year
No clear winner having emerged, the March 4 general elections led to the formation of the first sovranist and anti-establishment government in a EU founding member. It needed a harsh and fierce process that reached its peak with the impeachment proposal by the Five Star Movement leader Luigi di Maio, when Mattarella rejected to appoint the eurosceptic Paolo Savona as Minister of Economic Affairs. Summer 2018 has also been hotter than usual, with the enduring tension between the minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini and the European Union, following the first restrictive measures on immigration and the dramatic event of the Morandi Bridge fall in Genoa.
Autumn 2018 represented a critical moment as well, with the clash between the government and Brussels about the agreed percentage deficit in the Italian budget law, an argument that boosted the spread with the German bonds. The result was that the financial manoeuvre aws approved close to the deadline without a proper parliamentary discussion, a serious distortion in the legislative process.
The president of all Italians
Sergio Mattarella started his mandate in 2015 in the shadow and was then perceived as calm and reserved — cold to some extent. However, he demonstrated great patience, determination and sense of institutions, as he managed the political crisis by taking great responsibilities.
In his speech, he has finally emerged as a solid and unifying figure, capable of turning all the difficulties and tragedies of the year into hope for the future. Indirectly, he called to order the two majority leaders Di Maio and Salvini. The distance between the executive and the President of the Republic reached its peak with the touching image of the arrival in Italy of Antonio Megalizzi’s coffin, the young Italian journalist killed in last December’s Strasbourg massacre. When the plane landed, indeed, only Mattarella and Antonio’s family were present.
Mattarella thus opposed the Five Star Movement’s and the League’s permanently aggressive communication with a tight but balanced message, a choice that proved to be efficient according to the increase in TV audience and social network engagement, and to the positive comments made by all the most important political figures, including key figures in the government such as Giuseppe Conte, Roberto Fico, and the same Salvini and Di Maio. We hope that this positive attitude towards the President of all Italians will last until next year, although it will likely fade away during the next political crisis.