Italy, it’s Valentine’s Day, please stop breaking my heart. Will Renzi really be Italy’s Prince Charming?

Poster from last year’s general election campaign “After 5 years of little ideas and grand delusions, we deserve another story.”

Like Italy, it should be every single-girl’s mantra – we deserve another, a better story. The Italian word storia translates as both story, history and ‘relationship’, as in I had a ‘story’ with him. It’s a loaded term. Today should be a day for love, romance and seduction but yet again Italy is breaking hearts, yet again in the midst of a political crisis. 

   Matteo Renzi at 39 is about to become Italy’s youngest ever Prime Minister. Should we believe that this Prince Charming (Principe Azzurro in Italian) is really riding in to Italy’s rescue? The young mayor of Florence (we have to keep going on about how young he is because everyone else with any political power in Italy is old) has just overthrown his own Prime Minister, replacing him probably from Sunday as head of the volatile coalition government. The steady, dependable Enrico Letta has been left no doubt feeling that he should have done more. 

   Lauded as the Tony Blair of Italy, Renzi is young, centarist, more popular with the public than with his own left-wing party and ambitious. Sound familiar? Sounds worrying. Like Blair, being popular may be good for winning elections (not that Renzi’s won a general election) and gaining power, but with what purpose? Which direction would he take us? 

Outgoing Enrico Letta and the young pretender Matteo Renzi
Taken from Wanted in Rome

   That Italy needs a change is not in doubt, but a change into what? Renzi is not putting forward any clear programme or vision. He says Italy needs to change, to modernise. But what does that mean? Like Blair, simply repeating the words in various combinations renders them meaningless to the point of insanity. We need change, we must change and modernise, I will bring change, I will modernise the country, I will enable change through the process of modernisation, modernisation will bring many changes. Blair once gave a speech where there were more pauses than actual words. This sort of empty rhetoric is definitely not what Italy needs.

   Much like many a modern suitor, Renzi may seem super keen and enthusiastic at first when the prize is there to be taken. He thinks that’s what he wants, but he has no idea how to progress beyond the first stage. There doesn’t seem to be any plan other than to achieve power. As so often, once the conquest has been made, the enthusiasm, passion and effectiveness fades.

   Italy needs a stable, long-term, reliable, yet inventive husband. As this recently given marriage advice claims, Italy needs commitment, someone who will “help them discover who they are, and to achieve the best version of themselves. But their expectations are rarely met, because of the investment of time and effort involved. All the wooing, the flowers, the chocolates, all the promises that this time it will be different, we’ve heard all the lines before. 

   Much like a jaded single-girl, we maintain our cynicism. Renzi presents himself as Italy’s knight in shining armour, but in reality is he just a flash young pretender who talks the talk? Is there any substance there? Is he all fur coat and no knickers? Will it be the same old fuckwittery, the same old let down after all the promises? This time we need someone who will deliver.


  1. I would like to read this in The Guardian-you should be sending some of your insightful, wittyl comments to them-let me know when you branch into free lance journalism.
    Cally Glew


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