On 20 Aug 2019 the Italian PM Giuseppe Conte resigned his post due to continued infighting between the coalition government and to preempt a confidence vote that had been put forward by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Conte went on to give an excoriating indictment of Salvini, accusing him of looking out only for himself and his party. The Italian press and much of the western press has followed in kind, painting Salvini as quite the rogue. President Sergio Mattarella wants the diverse factions in the Italian parliament to move quickly to form government, otherwise Italy faces new elections. The new government looks now to be formed, between the Pd and Five Star parties, with Conte as PM. If so, it will probably mean more austerity for Italy. But is that and the new coalition the right direction for the Italians?
If you want a good study in the complex and messy world of Western-style democracy, look no further than Italy. Since the formation of the Republic on 10 Jun 1946, Italy has seen 43 PMs come and go. A simple graph illustrates the point as to why that might happen:
So, before we get to all the troubles with the current government and why new elections may be called, a quick look at the chart of the Italian Republic will show why there has been so much change at the top over the years, and where Italy might be headed from here. The chart is below (bigger):
The immediate factors that stand out are the Sun/Uranus conjunction in the 7th house, both trine Jupiter. And then there are the midpoints to the Midheaven. The Sun/Uranus conjunction is found very often in individuals who strive for great independence, but who also experience sudden changes in their circumstances, often much to their discontent, and who rarely lead what we might call a settled life. There is always something unexpected just around the corner. So it has been in Italian politics. The 7th house placement of the Sun/Uranus also indicates the often combative nature of the political system there, as well as its reliance on the rule of law. It is a nation that is constantly reevaluating and remaking itself.
However, the conjunction is trine Jupiter, which removes the biggest part of worry from the conjunction, in general gives quite an optimistic outlook and brings material luck. The Italian economy is the fourth-largest in the EU, as of this writing. That may change if Brexit takes place. It is also an astrological combination that lends itself to technical skills and development, for which Italian industry is known.
The midpoints to the Midheaven (sitting government) also show independence, especially the Moon/Mercury midpoint. But the most telling midpoint is to Saturn/Neptune, our ‘illness axis’, and as shown on the chart, gives a peculiar character, a frequent change of mood, the tendency to lose courage easily and so forth. Saturn and Neptune are also quintile, adding a sense of obsessiveness to it all as well as increasing the volatility. From the preceding it is not difficult to see why Italy has had so many governments since it became a republic. Change is the order of the day in Italian politics.
Added to the preceding is the Mercury/Neptune square in the Republic chart. Mercury rules the 10th and 8th houses (sitting government and foreign banking/change/transformation, resp.), whereas Neptune rules Italy’s 4th house (infrastructure and opposition parties). That square gives a dreamer’s disposition anyway and points toward a malleable mental state, leaving one open to deception and mental manipulation. Italy’s Mercury is also on the Vertex, with Neptune squaring that axis, showing quite a changeable disposition at its worst and a visionary outlook at its best.
As to the present situation, the problems, as with so many European nations, can be traced back to austerity measures put in place since the 2008 recession and the stringent controls which accompany that through the EU. Better stated, the EU’s difficulties lie with the Eurozone, or single currency. Italy’s economy has been one of the worst hit in that regard, second only to Greece. That, along with the migration crisis, which particularly hit Italy hard, has soured the Italian public on EU policy as it stands. They want to be able to get out from under debt without the stringent austerity measures and they want a halt to the large numbers of African migrants coming in via northern Africa. That is where Salvini comes into the picture, as well as the Five Star Party.
The general election of 2018 showed the discontent of the Italian public with the old parties’ practices and policies by casting a protest vote, which is essentially what happened. The two parties that won out in forming a coalition government after the fact were the Northern League (Lega Nord) Party, and the Five Star Movement.
The Five Star (Cinque Stelle) Movement is a loose coalition of politicians disaffected by politics-as-usual in Italy. They are seen as right-leaning, but they are actually composed of members from across the political spectrum. Their name derives from their five main policy issues: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, right to Internet access, and environmentalism. It seems an eclectic mix, until one looks deeper.
In point of fact, Cinque Stelle is actually more about the following, which is how they won the largest vote share at the 2018 election: populism, anti-establishment sentiment, direct democracy, E-democracy, environmentalism, Euroscepticism, and anti-globalization. Since forming government, though, their performance has been less than stellar, and their numbers have dropped dramatically.
La Lega, on the other hand, is definitely right-wing and has its voter base in the industrial north of Italy. It was formed out of a coalition of six northern parties and is based in Milan. Without going into detail, the League opposes the euro currency and wants to abolish it. Because of its industrial and agricultural base it is pro-Russian and was opposed to the sanctions placed on Russia (Italy has strong industrial relations with Russia). It is anti-non-European immigration, as in Africans and Muslims, and it opposes a European superstate, instead proposing a ‘Europe of the regions’. It is frequently cast as being opposed to the EU, really is actually pro-EU, but is against the Eurozone. The preceding points lead to why they are presented in such a negative light in the mainstream press.
Now we come to the crux of Italy’s present governmental woes. The leader of the Five Star Party is a weak leader, and there are fundamental differences in opinion between him (Luigi Di Maio) and Salvini. There has been constant friction between the two. The PM, Giuseppe Conte, was approved and appointed by President Mattarella and is pro-EU. So also is the Finance Minister Tria. There has been friction also between Salvini, Conte and Tria over Italy’s budget, which is running a debt higher than that allowed by the Eurozone rules. The situation came to a head over Conte’s refusal to sign an order banning the Open Arms migrant rescue ship from docking in the island of Lampedusa, an island which is Italian territory.
Since the row and Conte’s resignation, the parties had until 28 August to form government, or Italy would face new elections. Salvini held out an olive branch to Five Star to remain in government, but the proposition was rejected. Five Star had been in talks with the Pd (Partita Democratica, Renzi’s Party) to form government, but many in Italy would see such a coalition as a betrayal by Five Star and probably seal its fate over the longer term as a viable party. If La Lega and Cinque Stelle looked like an odd match, how about an establishment party (Pd) and an anti-establishment one (Cinque Stelle)? On the surface it looks as though it would not last long.
Where does this place Italy, then? On the day of Conte’s resignation, transiting Mars was on the Italian MC, showing the row and the break. Transiting Pluto is opposite Italy’s Venus, ruling Italy’s 7th house (constitutional concerns) and 12th house (hidden enemies of the state and self-undoing). It is this latter rulership that brings in some interesting perspective.
Pluto can represent subterfuge, among other things, and there are a great number of people in Italy and in the EU who are saying, “Anyone but Salvini!” Salvini has the elites in Rome and in the EU worried, as well as people with more liberal leanings. There is plenty of reason in their view to want to sabotage Salvini’s plans and progress in any way they can. Why would they think that?
With Salvini wanting to at least side-step the Eurozone until Italy gets back on its feet, this has the banking interests in Europe in a knot. They would like nothing better than for Italy to bend to EU rules and sell off a few major assets to bring the budget into line. But Salvini will have none of it. He wants Italy to be able to produce itself out of debt, and you can’t do that if you sell off your assets. He wants to introduce a system called mini-BOTS which would allow for the payment of debts to the government, but those would be outside of EU rules.
The EU is also beholden to financial/neoliberal capitalism and the IMF rules, which is what got Greece in such a bind with their debt crisis. Greece was looking into its own system of parallel payments, proposed by Varoufakis. He opposes the plan put forward by Salvini, saying it would break up the Eurozone, whereas his would strengthen it, he says. But the Greeks got sold out by their PM Tsipris, forcing Varoufakis to quit. Tsipris is now the most hated man in Greece, and the Greeks are living under severe austerity measures and had to sell off much of their state assets. Austerity there is forecast to last until about 2050. Salvini watched all that and is saying no to the same thing happening in Italy. So essentially, if the Eurozone is to survive, the leadership in Rome and Brussels cannot allow Salvini to come to power.
The EU leadership knows it is facing backlash on many fronts, as in France, Italy, Hungary, Spain, Greece and Britain, for starters. Further, the EU is facing serious concerns in the next couple of years, as shown by its directions, below (bigger):
What stands out immediately are the directions to the EU Sun, shown on the chart, the Sun representing the EU leadership in general, but also ruling the EU 1st house (its general health and outlook, and most importantly, its internal affairs). Those directions imply or indicate a big shakeup. That is indicated by the directions of Mars, Saturn, Pluto and the Moon to the EU Sun, with the Pluto direction being the most prominent. It could be read like Pluto=Moon/Mars/Saturn=Sun, pointing to weakness, destruction, the ‘intervention of a higher power’, rage, fury and so forth. It most probably points to a constitutional shakeup. If there was a strong European combined military (there isn’t) it could point to greater federalization in Europe. Instead, the opposite is indicated.
Brexit is not indicated in the current directions to the EU, unless Brexit gets deferred to 2022. But as far as the Halloween date for Brexit this year, it is not shown in the EU directions. Instead, there is a direction of Jupiter to the Mars/Pluto conjunction in the EU chart, which shows the EU at the moment as being able to put forward its objectives – quite the opposite of what shows in the UK’s chart (go to the chart in the article). In other words, the EU is in a stronger position now than is the UK. That will be changing. That is also having its effects on Salvini and Italy, with Salvini claiming his ouster was a plot cooked up between Brussels, Berlin and Paris. There may be a little truth in that, given the transit of Pluto opposite Italy’s Venus, mentioned previously. But it is also political grandstanding by Salvini to keep his voter base riled.
If there is to be a big shakeup in the EU, it will take more than one state to precipitate it, and at the moment that one state looks to be Italy as the catalyst for others to follow. If the Pd and Five Star form government, as looks likely, then the next Italian elections, barring any other troubles, will come in 2023. Salvini will then be in the ascendancy, all things considered. He is not going to simply go away.
Salvini (chart) is a Piscean with Scorpio rising, with a very stubborn Taurus moon. He is a fighter and determined to see his causes through. That is indicated by his natal Sun/Saturn square, showing his ambition and the ability to game the system to his advantage. It is one of the ‘presidential’ or ‘executive’ aspects. In addition, his Taurus Moon is trine his Mars in ambitious Capricorn, another strong placement, with Mars also square to Uranus. The latter shows his extreme independence and fearlessness. He is a man who knows what he wants and how to go about getting it, and he will not be sidelined for very long. As a friend, he is loyal. As an adversary, he is not the person to be on the wrong side of, and can bide his time before making his move (Scorpio/Taurus), making him a formidable political opponent.
Salvini currently has a direction of Jupiter to his Sun (below, bigger), which emboldened him to split the partnership with Five Star and Conte. But with transiting Saturn on his nodal axis and transiting Neptune hovering around the direction of Jupiter to his Sun, a loss is rather more indicated at the moment, as well as his move probably not being the best decision. He may not have felt that he had other options, as he was meeting stiffer and stiffer opposition to his policies. And there is a budget battle coming up in a couple of months. But down does not mean out, and with his combination of planets and aspects, he is not a man to admit defeat. And there will be future elections.
In summary, even though Salvini is now sidelined, he is not going away, and he has exposed the other ruling parties for what they are. All he needs to do is to keep the pressure on and bide his time, which is exactly what we can expect him to do. If the coalition of Five Star and the Pd survives, the next general election will be no later than Nov 2023. At that point Saturn will cross Salvini’s IC and he will emerge into a greater prominence. But for now, for the next couple of years, it looks as though he will have to sit tight and keep the pressure on. Dissatisfaction within Italy and the EU will only increase in that period. And especially if there is another major world financial crisis, this time probably worse that what we saw in 2008, then Salvini’s star will be shining much more brightly.
Featured pic from Financial Times