Berlusconi does not trust his allies and explores the M5s front

Guglielmo Mangiapane via Reuters

Former Italian Prime Minister and leader of the Forza Italia party Silvio Berlusconi kisses League leader Matteo Salvini as Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni looks on at the end of their meeting in Rome, Italy, October 20, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

He flew over Rome, where he immediately assembled the general staff. Antonio Tajani first arrived at Villa Grande, then the group leaders of the Chamber and Senate, Paolo Barelli and Anna Maria Bernini. From under the pines of the Appia he coordinates the Quirinale operation. Silvio Berlusconi is perhaps the one who most believes in the chances of climbing the Colle. From the summit that took place yesterday between Enrico Letta and Giuseppe Conte it filters that the two would have agreed to avoid a count on his name on the fourth ballot. It is fuel for the blue leader’s fire. “It means that they fear him”, says a very faithful one.

So far the positive notes. The negative ones are the intentions of the allies. On Friday, when Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni should join him for a decisive summit – which could however be postponed, awaiting the moves of the Democratic Party who moved the Management and parliamentary groups meeting to Saturday – he will ask the center-right to formalize support for his candidacy . Giovanni Toti should also sit at that table, who today advised Berlusconi to “speak less as a political leader”, little reassured by the threats of the magic circle to end the legislature if Mario Draghi is elected to the Quirinale. The Knight was very irritated, the suspicions about the centrists and their autonomous game, perhaps together with Matteo Renzi, are gathering. Just as at Villa Grande, there are fears that Salvini will use his name as a flag candidate, cultivating a negotiation with the Giallorossi side for a face down card, a center-right exponent who in the event of an election would allow him to win a not just victory. The leader of the League, aware that node B complicates any kind of agreement, threw the ball back over the fence of Villa Grande: “No one from the left can veto a priori”, but “we have to wait for him to say what he wants to do, dissolve the reserves”.

Suspicions fueled by a wave that has swelled in the last few hours at the Palazzo. A government exponent explains it thus: “The center-right is obviously divided over Berlusconi, the center-left doesn’t have the numbers. To manage this very delicate year, I would not be scandalized if at a certain point an appeal was made against Mattarella ”. The reconfirmation of the outgoing president – openly supported so far by a part of the Democratic Party and the M5s – would crystallize the current institutional architecture at least until the next elections. Reassuring peons anxious to return home in the event of an early end of the legislature, but above all by blocking the way to the last ambition of the former prime minister.

For this reason, if on the one hand Berlusconi wants a profession of loyalty on the part of the allies, on the other hand he is trying to widen the front that will support him. There are about seventy votes to overcome the quorum set from the fourth vote, too many to be gathered together in the Mixed group. This is why the work of the Azzurri is also focusing on the 5-star Movement. The goal is to break free in the chaos of the five-star party, attracting a patrol of discontent with promises of re-nominations and ensuring that with the head of the Azzurri at Colle Draghi he will remain in his place and the legislature will come to fruition. The initial feedback that arrived at Villa Grande would not be negative at all, confirmed by one of his loyalists who comments sibylline “there is everything in there, we could convince even the unexpected”.

Hopes fueled by a rumor that has started to run in the last few hours: a patrol of discontented M5s are ready to release a handful of votes in the first two votes with Silvio’s name clearly written. It is a group of dissidents with variable geometry, from fifteen to thirty, depending on the themes and moods of the moment, they meet in conciliaboli, they meet at dinner, they have a single common denominator: a fierce criticism of Giuseppe Conte’s management. It is a karst river that moves parallel to Berlusconi’s scouting, it is not certain that the respective waters meet, but it cannot be excluded either. The move is to send a signal to the political leader and see the effect it has, even if, explains a pentastellate source, “from today to the day of the vote there are two weeks left, an eternity”. Things could change, what at the moment does not change, explains the same source, “is the work that some colleagues of Forza Italia are doing on the hips of some of ours”. No one is ready to swear that there will be no snipers on one side, silent traitors on the other. A puzzle that Berlusconi is convinced to complete before Thursday 27 January. The day, circled in red on the calendar, is the one eligible for the fourth vote, the first useful to be elected.


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