A message that balances “anguish and hope”, where however the reasons for optimism struggle to make their way through the many concerns. Sergio Mattarella was shorter (not even a quarter of an hour) and more raw than in the previous five speeches at the end of the year. He spoke from an unusual location, practically from the deserted courtyard of the Quirinale which, if possible, gives a sense of his distance from political squabbles but, at the same time, plastically accentuates his solitude.
It started from the sufferings inflicted by the virus that were many for everyone, but that some social category has suffered more than others, therefore they should be more recognized with authentic refreshments. He acknowledged that science had found the remedy for vaccines in record time, with the hope that “ignorance and prejudices” would not stop their spread. For health personnel, getting vaccinated is “a choice of responsibility”, indeed “a duty” towards the sick, he stressed. Great satisfaction for how Europe this time intervened with a flood of billions, making up for certain past behaviors when “selfish interests prevailed” and the Union did not prove to be up to it. However, a certain alarm emerges from Mattarella’s speech: the president fears that the extraordinary opportunity represented by the Recovery Fund will not be fully exploited, and European support will be squandered in the thousands of streams of welfare. It is not for nothing that he insists on a use of resources that is “concrete, effective, rigorous”. Understanding it as a call to the government would be excessive, but the president did not seem entirely happy about it.
A message to the country is certainly not the best opportunity to wash the dirty clothes of politics. Especially with the Italians already sitting at the table. Here too, however, a certain uneasiness emerges from the message. Mattarella recalls that “in the coming months we have decisive steps”, therefore “no distractions are allowed” nor can we “waste time” wasting energy to “pursue illusory partisan advantages”. Even an alien landed from Mars would understand that the head of state is referring to the political tensions of these days, to the threats of crisis raised by Matteo Renzi (never directly named) and in general to the tones of challenge with which these have been received at the top floors of the government. Mattarella invokes a shred of seriousness and responsibility, because what citizens expect is something else: the Italians are asking to get out of the pandemic quickly and to recover from a disastrous economic condition. There will be time for the reckoning later.
Finally, a doubly binding declaration: “The restart will be at the center of the last year of my mandate”. Twice Mattarella repeats that it will be the last. And if on the one hand he excludes from now on reapplying to the Quirinale, because seven years are enough for him and (perhaps) more, on the other he warns the protagonists of politics that it is his intention to fully exercise an active role as guarantor. For a little while longer but for this reason with the freer hands to make the right decisions.