ROME — When Matteo Renzi, the former Italian prime minister currently polling at about 3 percent, triggered the collapse of the Italian government last month, he became the target of near universal opprobrium and bewilderment for plunging the country into political chaos in the middle of a pandemic.
Now he is taking a victory lap.
Mr. Renzi’s gambit not only caused the fall of a prime minister and government he had excoriated as dangerously incompetent. It also resulted in a stunning upgrade that has led Mario Draghi, a titan of Europe largely credited with saving the euro, to assemble a broad national unity government, which is expected to take shape this week.
In Europe, Mr. Draghi’s renown has immediately increased Italy’s stature and credibility in absorbing and spending a huge relief package that could determine the future of both Italy and the European Union. At home, the gravity of Mr. Draghi’s arrival has reordered the Italian political landscape and undercut Mr. Renzi’s populist enemies.
“This was my strategy. I did it all alone, with 3 percent!” said Mr. Renzi, a onetime mayor of Florence who is not bashful about his ability to work the levers of power and outmaneuver the competition. “It’s all a game of parliamentary tactics. And let’s say that working for five years in the palace where Machiavelli worked helped a little.”
Admirers of Mr. Renzi have marveled at his magic trick, in which he somehow created the conditions for Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, to pull Mr. Draghi’s name out of a hat. They have looked to Mr. Draghi — who as European Central Bank president famously said he would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro — as a savior after three years of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
“The choice belongs to President Sergio Mattarella, the credit belongs to Matteo Renzi and his whatever it takes,” wrote Christian Rocca, the editor of Linkiesta, a pro-European and anti-populist publication.
Mr. Renzi’s fans talk about how he did the dirty work, tacitly desired by various political forces, to remove Mr. Conte. By doing so, they say, he at least temporarily brought down the curtain on a period of populist politics, ushered in by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the nationalist League party of Matteo Salvini.
But the most effusive praise of Mr. Renzi may come from Mr. Renzi.
“It’s a masterpiece of Italian politics,” he said of the events that brought Mr. Draghi to Rome.
Mr. Renzi’s narcissism and naked ambition have made him insufferable to many Italians.
“Renzi remains the problem,” said Gianfranco Pasquino, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Bologna. Mr. Renzi’s insatiable need for attention was “the one constant” in Italian politics, he said.
Love him or hate him — and many now fall into the latter category — what is hard to dispute is that Mr. Renzi is Italy’s premier political operator, one who doesn’t pass up…
Go to the news source: Renzi’s Power Play Is a ‘Masterpiece.’ He’ll Be the First to Tell You.