Is Italy heading for a traffic jam?

R&D: After a relatively quiet period Italy has recently elected a new Prime Minister. What has happened exactly?

Danilo Potenza: In fact, Matteo Renzi was PM from the beginning of 2014 until December 2016 which is a long period by Italian standards. If I’m not mistaken this was the fourth longest period in our Republican history.  It is interesting and important to note that the resignation of Mr. Renzi doesn’t change any Government policy.

R&D: How is that possible? Doesn’t a new Government mean new policies?

DP: Not in this case. The new PM, Gentiloni was the Minister of Foreign Affairs under Renzi and since taking office Gentiloni has only changed 6 Ministers. More importantly, the same parties are supporting the actual Government. Renzi only resigned because he lost the referendum at the beginning of December.

R&D: The Referendum about abolishing of one of the two houses of the Italian Parliament?

DP: Exactly. Renzi was in favour of strong and radical reforms; new people and new ways versus the old establishment. In fact he initiated numerous important reforms in the last 3 years: the job act, pensions, house taxation, company’s taxation, and public administration. One reform was missing however, the abrogation of one of the two existing houses of the Parliament which would increase the speed of approving new laws as well as reduce costs. When he announced these reforms he was confident that he had the full support of the people. For this reason he didn’t seek support from the other parties; not even from his own party and this was his mistake. In the end he lost the referendum because the question was no longer about approving his proposed reforms, it became a referendum about Renzi.