When during the spring the whole planet was fighting against Covid-19 at the same time and each country responded with lockdown measures, Italy was given the merit of being one of the states that was managing the situation better, despite hospitals unprepared to handle the large number of positives and intensive therapy to the collapse. The merit of having had this attention and especially these compliments has, as he said in a famous speech in Parliament, “a name and a surname”: Giuseppe Conte.
The Italian Prime Minister was able to manage a crisis situation that was unprecedented in the country in terms of health, he was able to ask the population to make sacrifices that no other politician would probably have wanted to ask for and, more importantly, he chose to take responsibility for his actions, for better or for worse. During the lockdown, Conte became the only face and voice that the Italians waited for every night for what had become, by now, the usual press conference.
A voice of hope, listened to by all, that had the fate of the Italians in its hands but did not decide to throw it away. He knew how to be tough when it was needed, loosen the pressure when asked and obviously it was possible to do so. The preference of the citizens towards the figure of Conte, and not towards his political idea or his party, reached at the end of the lockdown period results never seen before. The polls spoke of a Prime Minister with so much support that if there were elections in the short term and he chose to run alone he would probably win.
The Italians trusted him and were right. Conte reciprocated this trust with the right measures, even if they were tough in some cases, but they were able to ferry the country towards the end of the lockdwon, towards the hope that Covid could cease to be a problem. Obviously, he too has gained a lot of prestige from this management and, above all, many consents, which in politics some say are much more important than anything.
All right. But now? What is happening now in Italy, with the number of contagions constantly increasing and that the weekend has returned to exceed a thousand daily positives, seems the exact opposite of what had been the politics and mentality of just a few months ago. What was an obligation before has now become a possibility; what was previously common sense has now become indifference; what was the government’s choice to move quickly to counter the threat now with the arrival of summer has become immobility.
A long summer wait, but what is the cost that Italians will have to pay in the future? Of course, to continue even with words to use the terrifying and technical terms of the lockdown would lose all the consensus gained. And this is not contemplated. But is the silence and the willingness to give up in September the right tactic that the government must put in place today? Just let it all go like that, just like that?
Let’s be clear, better the immobility and some targeted press conferences, the screams and bad words we heard last year from one side to the other of the political factions during the summer of election campaigns and proclamations with a view to possible elections. Let us therefore overlook the expressive choices, or not, of this period. The consensus accumulated today by Conte was obviously phagocytized and made by M5S, who was waiting for nothing else in view of the September elections. That is currently the only important thing for Italian politics.
The idea that shines through on several levels within the majority is that the good thing for Italy now is to do what Italians want and not what is right for them, except in exceptional cases of course. If in April it was possible to ask citizens to stay at home and go out only for the essentials, which had worked since the numbers of contagions were falling sharply, in the same way it is not possible to ask the same thing again during the summer. After what for many had been months of “imprisonment”, to exaggerate, the time had now come for freedom and a return to life. The point is that in order to do so, the people did not want any restrictions whatsoever, except the recommendations to keep social distance and the mask.
The government agreed to everything, even to step back and actually only really bump into it when it was too late. See the decree to close the nightclubs only after August 15, when the big events and the summer season are coming to an end. The question then is: are the consents and legitimacy achieved above all else the right way forward for the country? Is it right to risk coming back in November with a new health crisis in order to gain confidence in the country only in view of the elections in September?
Of course, the hypothesis is that after the vote we return to the hard line, the restrictions and above all the technicalities that are so frightening. But it might be too late and, above all, it could have been avoided. Waiting to know the future, President Conte is enjoying the summer, waiting to know whether he will be able to rejoice or regret his work and, above all, hoping that the other countries will not be left with all the fine words spent during the management of the epidemic. For now everything is quiet.