Carlo Calenda at the center of the game
His name is Carlo Calenda and thrills the Italian left. This former minister of economic development (2016-2018), MEP within the Renew Europe group, a native of Rome, spiced up the campaign for the legislative elections, which was struggling to take off in the torpor of summer. Still at the beach, the Italians are hardly passionate about « combination » policies. And yet, the transfer window started well.
Bite on the right-wing electorate
After having signed, Tuesday August 2, an alliance with Enrico Letta, leader of the Democratic Party (PD, center left), Carlo Calenda, 49, at the head of the small liberal party Azione, reconsidered five days later on his decision by learning that, the day before, the same Enrico Letta had also tied an agreement with the ecologists of Europa verde and the Italian left (Sinistra italiana).
At Tuesday’s deal « personalities have been added that the Italians no longer want to see », declared the leader of Azione, thus justifying his withdrawal and thereby compromising the left’s chances of winning against the right-wing bloc, led by Giorgia Meloni, of Fratelli d’Italia, Matteo Salvini, of the League, and of Silvio Berlusconi, of Forza Italia, credited respectively with 24, 12 and 7% of the votes. With some 23% of the vote, the PD, if it wants to win, must imperatively find allies.
“By leaving the PD and going to the elections alone, Carlo Calenda hopes to bite into the right-wing electorate by attracting the votes of moderate voters from the League and Forza Italia, who do not want to remain in an alliance with the nationalists of Fratelli from Italy. A bet which, if successful, could change the situation”, says Luca Tomini, professor at the Free University of Brussels (ULB). Azione currently represents between 4 and 5% of the vote, but hopes to reach 40% in two months. A daring and risky calculation. “If voters move to the center, the right-wing coalition weakens; conversely, if it does not work, the right will win with two-thirds of the seats in Parliament,” continues the researcher in political science.
The Italian Macron
Carlo Calenda is a bit like the Italian Macron. “He is positioning himself as the political novelty of the moment. A bit like Macron did in 2017, presenting himself as neither left nor right, says Luca Tomini again. His campaign will target right-wing voters with the message: Fratelli d’Italia unites extremist radicals and the League and Forza Italia have betrayed the moderates, join us. »
He is counting on the fractures of the right, whose unity is largely misleading. The train is certainly pulled by the Fratelli d’Italia locomotive, which in Europe can be compared to the Polish PiS (Law and Justice Party), very conservative, very right-wing, eurosceptic without wanting to leave Europe. Behind, the wagons of a divided League. Its leader, Matteo Salvini, with his inimitable anti-Roman populist style, is far from unanimous among the more moderate governors of the northern regions of Italy, such as Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto region. .
He is also threatened on his right by Giorgia Meloni herself, who, under the previous Draghi government, remained alone in the opposition, thus ensuring a credibility that Salvini no longer has. And at the end of the convoy, the Forza Italia wagon, which struggles to follow. Its electorate, like its leader, Silvio Berlusconi, has aged and is crumbling.
The 5-Star Movement Discredited
If the Democratic Party holds firm on the helm of the left, it can no longer count on its former ally, the 5 Star Movement (M5S), split into multiple currents and largely discredited since it brought down the Draghi government.. A jostled political landscape, which Carlo Calenda intends to exploit.