Understanding the workings of the Italian political scene is about as easy as explaining the internal workings of a Formula 1 gearbox. Anyone can tell you that the driver uses a paddle to change gears, but how that actually happens is a rather more complicated process.
The reason that this is important is that it involves (or may involve) Luca Montezemolo, the chairman of Ferrari, who is the man who calls the shots at F1’s most famous team. Montezemolo has been edging quietly towards a political career since he gave up being chairman of Fiat nearly three years ago. Now 65, Montezemolo is the force behind a new political party called Italia Futura. This was launched a few months ago but did not have the impact that had been hoped for. The resignation of Mario Monti’s government has, however, given the party a second chance and it is now part of the new alliance Monti has put together in an effort to keep his job at the elections that are planned for the end of February.
This alliance is called Agenda Monti per l’Italia (AMI) and includes the Unione di Centro (UdC), a party led by Pier Ferdinando Casini, the conservative Futuro e Libertà (FLI), led by Gianfranco Fini, and the Partito Liberale Italiano (PLI), headed by Stefano de Luca. In addition the new formation includes a number of defectors from Pier Luigi Bersani’s Partito Democratico (PD), which currently leads the polls and from the Silvio Berlusconi’s Il Popolo della Libertà (PdL). The alliance has been endorsed by the Catholic Church as well. There is no guarantee that this organisation will be able to beat Bersani, who is reckoned by opinion polls to have 36 percent of the vote, with Monti’s alliance having just 23 percent.
Perhaps wisely, Montezemolo has decided not to stand for election himself, thus remaining the spiritual leader of his movement without being in the firing line if the Monti alliance fails to win the day. Thus Montezemolo can continue to enjoy a successful image as head of Ferrari and perhaps if things go well he can then move into a more political role.