February 26. 2024. 5:34

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‘Third Pole’ vows to dominate Italy’s political centre

A new pro-Europe political party is taking form in Italy and hopes to fish votes from both left, and right ahead of the 2024 EU elections, MEP Sandro Gozi (PDE/Renew Europe) told EURACTIV Italy in an interview.

Gozi is at the forefront in building the “Third Pole” political project, consisting of Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva and Carlo Calenda’s Azione party, both already members of Renew.

The Third Pole is a project that aims to stand at the centre of the political chessboard, as it was created to attract citizens who do not see themselves on either the right or left of the political spectrum, and it looks to the 2024 European elections as a test case.

While it is expected to change its name once it is made official, a coalition between Italia Viva and Azione is already in the field as the two ran together in the last regional elections in Lazio and Lombardy, even if they achieved a poor result.

However, after the election of Elly Schlein as secretary of the Democratic Party (PD/S&D), many, starting with Renzi and Calenda, are betting that several PD voters will look to the Third Pole instead.

“If the left becomes radicalised, in the 2024 EU elections, we have a chance to make a resounding breakthrough”, former prime minister Renzi commented after the election of Schlein, considered a progressive ‘left-left’ leader.

A key meeting in Rome on Tuesday represented the start of the roadmap that will lead first to local congresses of the two individual parties and then to the new party’s national founding and constituent congress in October. Many suggest it may take up the name ‘Italy in Action’.

As for its leader, most predict it could go to Carlo Calenda. Renzi will take a step back but will still have a leading role in the party’s workforce.

“The Third Pole will be done, in fact, it is already done. Action, Italia Viva and the liberals of LDE will be part of it”, Calenda said a few hours before the meeting on Tuesday.

In Brussels, Azione and Italia Viva are part of the Renew Europe macro-group, which comprises the European Democratic Party (EDP) Democrats, ALDE liberals and some MEPs who joined, leaving other groups or were not members of any.

‘Evidence of leadership’ in Renew

Currently spearheading the Renew group is undoubtedly French President Emmanuel Macron, although his leadership is now under serious threat because of the pension reform push.

But according to Gozi, the secretary general of the PDE who was elected as an MEP with Macron’s La Rèpublique En Marche (now Renaissance), Macron’s leadership within Renew and France are not in doubt.

“He is demonstrating tenacity, decisiveness, and consistency. The statesman, as is well known, does not look to the next election but to the next generation. And this is particularly true when it comes to pensions and work, and therefore the interests and prospects first and foremost of young people”, he told EURACTIV Italy.

The protests in France and the slim majority in parliament, according to Gozi, are “evidence of courage and leadership” and passing the reform “will be well noticed in Europe” without undermining his authority at European tables.

In France, “other labour initiatives will have to follow, against exhausting jobs, to strengthen vocational training and to share between workers and entrepreneurs the value and benefits of work and growth”, Gozi said.

And to find a larger majority, it might be useful to look at Italy, a master in the art of compromise.

“No doubt a little more ‘Italian’ parliamentary culture would have helped. Without forgetting, however, that the text of the reform being discussed is no longer that of the government but that which came out of a bicameral commission of deputies and senators, the latter from the opposition”, he points out.

In Rome, like in Paris, “there is a historic distrust of strong leaders”, he added.

“People are no longer used to leaders who keep their commitments and do what they promised in the election campaign,” said Gozi.

Renzi, often compared to Macron in temperament, age and style, defended the French leader to the hilt.

“He is making a just and sacrosanct reform on pensions. I prefer a leader who is challenged but does something useful for the state coffers to a leader who seeks consensus by indebting his fellow citizens. So, long live Macron,” he wrote in his newsletter.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)