Luca di Montezemolo is a busy man these days. In addition to running Ferrari – and making ill-considered remarks about Bernie Ecclestone – he is in the process of trying to launch a political party to unite Italy’s fragmented political centre, in order to create a platform which would allow current Prime Minister Mario Monti to stay in power after the upcoming elections in April 2013.
Monti became the premier a year ago with support from the major parties after Silvio Berlusconi resigned last year amid economic chaos and scandal. His job was to push through reforms that were needed to save Italy from its massive debts. Not surprisingly, his government of technocrats is not very popular now as a result of harsh austerity measures that were deemed necessary. With the elections just a few months away the political parties have started jostling for position and this week Berlusconi’s Popolo della Libertà (PDL) withheld its support for some of Monti’s measures, which caused the government to wobble.
The centre-right PDL is in a mess, largely because Berlusconi refuses to stop meddling. Some of the party have already split away to start a new grouping and party leader Angelino Alfano is struggling. Berlusconi is making noises about being a candidate again. This is a godsend for the centre left. Last weekend Pier Luigi Bersani won a vote to become the candidate for the Partito Democratico (PD) and he was immediately well ahead in the opinion polls, with 30 percent support.
There is, however, general discontent for the political classes in Italy and this is reflected in the support that exists for former comedian Beppe Grillo, who started a party called the Movimento 5 Stelle” (M5S), which argues that Italy needs new political structures. In the opinion polls this has support of around 20 percent. PDL is now below 15 percent.
In September Montezemolo launched the Italia Futura party, supporting Monti but arguing that Italy needs a new generation of leaders. His longterm strategy, no doubt, would be to take over one day, if the opportunity presented itself. The problem is that the party has struggled to make much of an impression in opinion polls and has below five percent support.
The logic is that Grillo’s supporters will eventually realise that they are wasting their energy and that will give Italia Futura support to become a credible force, which would then become the magnet for centre right voters, who are currently looking for leadership.
It will be interesting to see if he can pull this off.