The Brief, powered by ENTSO-E – The Cavaliere’s Gambit –

Italy’s main politicians and their parties are gearing up for the election of the next head of state, a process that resembles a complex game of chess where the checkmate piece could, at times, be what you’d expect the most. less.

The presidential election will be a delicate exercise, and political actors have started preparations for the showdown scheduled for early February.

Every vote counts because the particular electoral system – which includes deputies and delegates from local administrations – lends itself to plots and maneuvers in the best Machiavellian tradition.

Some analysts say, for example, that a recent law against homophobia was passed at the end of October with the help of small parties as a guarantee of their political relevance in the presidential race.

A memorable indicator of how unpredictable things can get came in 2013 when former Commission chief Romano Prodi saw his hopes of becoming the new Quirinal Palace host dashed by a group of 101 “traitors” – including a young Matteo Renzi – who voted in a secret ballot against the party’s order to support his candidacy.

This time, former Prime Minister and current MEP Silvio Berlusconi, who turned 85 in September, is expected to join the race.

According to Corriere della Sera, last week, deputies found in their letterboxes in the House of Representatives “a monograph of Berlusconi with some of his speeches on the values ​​of liberalism, Catholicism and civil liberties”.

While there was no real need to present his thoughts to Italian politicians, the move was seen as the official start of his election campaign.

The President of the Republic is a central figure in the country’s political system as he / she is entrusted with the power to resolve government crises – which as we all know happens quite often in Italy.

In addition, the president remains in office for seven years, providing a stable point of reference for foreign governments, no matter how overheated the internal political situation.

Placing a controversial figure like Berlusconi at the top of the constitutional system seems too much, even for a politically creative country like this.

But this is clearly Berlusconi’s very last chance to make the dream of his life come true. After watching the openings of the other players, he made his move because he saw a distant field to pull it out.

The key to all of this lies – somewhat shockingly – in the Five Star Movement, which he sees as the political force that can ultimately tip the scales.

In a recent interview, Berlusconi surprisingly endorsed the Movement’s flagship policy, citizens’ basic income, which is currently under attack from both the right and the center-left.

Of course, Berlusconi remains the sworn enemy of the Movement, but it is also true that the protest party has made a lot of about-face since the start of the mandate.

They now rule with a set of their former opponents, including the right-wing Lega, the center-left Democratic Party, Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party and even Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

The other reason for Berlusconi’s hopes is not the lack of good candidates but the difficulties in moving the pieces on the Quirinal chessboard.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi, for example, has already shown supreme qualities: he has convinced parties accustomed to fighting to the death to form a government in a kind of “pax draghiana ‘.

At the same time, moving Draghi from the executive to Quirinal Square is complicated as it would trigger an early election, which Five Star and PD want to avoid.

Other powerful pieces could come into play, such as Paolo Gentiloni, but it is a tower that needs to be moved with great care due to his current position in the Commission.

In this game, Berlusconi is more of a knight – by the way, the English translation of his historic nickname in Italy, the horseman.

The knight is not as powerful as queens or towers, but can deliver spectacular masts with his non-linear movements.

However, moving the knight too early could be a bet the center-right coalition couldn’t afford, and many Berlusconi advisers have suggested playing him cool for now.

Indeed, an unwritten rule in the Quirinal’s race says that the first pieces that verify must be captured before they can mate.

Starting from an unfavorable position, Berlusconi must force the others to discover their offensive moves while preparing the ground for his big entry late in the game.

This end of the game will begin after the third ballot, when it will only need the majority of voters and not two-thirds of the elective assembly.

It may be long, and He Cavalier is unlikely to become Italy’s next president, but he will undoubtedly give it a try.

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The roundup

France and the EU must help organize “emergency” repatriation of French and European women and children stranded in Syria before winter sets in, said a French delegation returning from a mission in northeastern Syria. It is estimated that there are 645 European children and 231 European women in the Syrian camps.

EU Member States must take more concrete and legally binding measures to ensure equality in all public and private institutions, experts said at the recent conference on promoting gender mainstreaming. One expert said equality duties should be “positive duties, advancing what we want to achieve”, rather than imposing fines on those who fail to meet the standards.

Three TV channels and several magazines will publish an awareness campaign to inform about LGBTI families in Hungary, despite the previous reluctance of a Hungarian media regulator. Last June, the Hungarian parliament passed a law introducing heavy penalties for sex crimes against minors, which also prohibits the “promotion or representation” of homosexuality or sex reassignment for minors and limits sex education in schools.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn called for further pandemic restrictions as the rate of coronavirus infections in Germany hit an all-time high this week. On Monday, Spahn said that at the end of winter, almost everyone in Germany is said to be “vaccinated, cured or dead”.

And the European Commission aims to rationalize the period of validity of the block vaccination certificate, including the effects of the booster shots, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Monday. “We are determined to reverse the current tide… and we are also aware that we need to send clear and consistent messages to citizens,” she said.

A new report from the European Central Bank alleges that none of the 112 member European banks are on the verge of fully aligning with the block’s climate and environmental risk management guidelines. “Banks urgently need to set ambitious and concrete targets and deadlines – including measurable milestones – to mitigate their exposure to current and future C&E risks,” according to an ECB executive board member.

A draft Commission proposal, reviewed by EURACTIV, aims to reorganize the EU gas market by introducing new rights for consumers to choose their supplier, but fails to set industry-required targets increase the consumption of renewable and low-carbon gases. The proposal is subject to change before its presentation on December 14.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA), an EU bill intended to impose specific obligations on access control platforms, was approved by an overwhelming majority by a key committee of the European Parliament and will now be voted on in the December plenary session.

Pay attention to…

  • Innovation Commissioner Mariya Gabriel delivers an opening speech at the European Innovation Council (EIC) summit in Brussels.
  • Plenary session of the European Parliament until 25 November.
  • Fifty-third meeting of the Council of the European Economic Area (EEA).

The views are those of the author.

[Edited  by Zoran Radosavljevic/Alice Taylor]

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