Italy: Giuseppe Conte, the miracle of the coronavirus

Italie: Giuseppe Conte, le miraculé du coronavirus

ROME | It was said of him that he was a puppet in the hands of the parties, a pale character: his management of the crisis, the coronavirus has allowed the chief of the Italian government Giuseppe Conte of regild his blazon and even, a little, that of Italy.

According to a recent survey quoted by the RAI, 59 % of Italians were “very” or “fairly” confident in Mr. Conte, who has managed to create a direct link with the Italians via Facebook.

“Conte is not perceived as a politician traditional, but rather as a free man who provides information and the fact of an independent way”, analysis for the AFP Gianfranco Pasquino, professor of political Science at John Hopkins university of Bologna.

“We can say that he has gradually learned his craft,” adds the expert.

Set the tone

Mr. Conte, appointed in June 2018 head of government by the Movement 5 stars (M5S, antisystème) to which he is close, is so unknown to the general public.

Lawyer, no political experience, he is seen by the media as “a puppet” whose strings are pulled by his two vice-prime ministers, Luigi Di Maio, political leader of the M5S, and especially Matteo Salvini, the boss of the League (far-right).

But the odds are in his favor. As well the government’s “Tale 1”, the alliance between the League and the M5S, that the government “Tale 2”, which brings together since September 2019 the M5S and the democratic Party (PD, center left), are based on majorities are unstable, with parties which in the end rely on its ability to mediate.

With the alliance, M5S-PD, Mr Tale “has strengthened, it has a lot more margin of action, without vice-presidents, which hamper its action,” says Alessandro Giacone, a professor at the university of Bologna.

“During the crisis (of the virus), there has been a centralization of the measures taken at the government level, with the chairman of the board who appeared at the forefront of the political scene” and the media, ” said Mr. Giacone.

“Mr. Conte has been rather popular in its management of the crisis,” adds the historian. And if some stereotypes about Italy are extravagant, or the structural weaknesses are still there, “in the end, as the results have been roughly similar in most of the major european countries (…) the image of Italy comes out a bit”enhanced.

Because the peninsula, outside of China, “has a little, despite it setting the tone: the experience of containment and then the déconfinement began in Italy. The country has been a kind of laboratory”.

Mr. Conte has also been first in line to wear, with France and Germany, the idea of a large european economic recovery plan, finally adopted.

Tale OK, Italy KO

Tale also has a certain weakening of Matteo Salvini, who has committed a tactical error in blowing the coalition with the M5S.

According to the survey Ixth, Mr. Salvini will now get the confidence of only 30 % of respondents. The League, which was a year ago to about 35% of voting intentions, has plateaued now at around 25 %, although it remains the first party in Italy.

All is not rosy for as much for the head of the government. “Giuseppe Conte is well out of this crisis on some aspects, less on others,” said Vincenzo Galasso, professor at the Bocconi University of Milan.

The economy is coming out devastated two months of strict containment aimed at controlling the pandemic that has caused nearly 34,000 deaths in the peninsula. The country should know this year in its worst recession since the Second world War.

“Italy has stopped. (…) One third of the employees took a reduction in salary, and at the end of march, 45 % of the workers were off”, explains to the AFP, Mr Galasso.

“There has been a great shock on the labour market with a great inequality, because this has affected mainly people with a level bottom, those unable to work at home,” he continued.

“This is still low but it is a bomb that could explode. Tale today is not in a position to risk, but the accounts will arrive in the fall because of the economic situation”, – predicts Mr. Galasso.

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