There’s a problem in Europe, getting bigger and bigger as days fly: there is no Social Democratic leader around. Angela Merkel rules the centre-right coalition, strong, sharp, experienced, uncontested, hard-working. No one contests her ideas, some adjustment could be made but she is the leader, reliable and ever present.
Who’s doing her job on the left? No one. There are two competitors-partners: Matteo Renzi and François Hollande (together, or one of them): they represent two big countries of the euro area, the second and the third economies of the single currency, they are leader of two nations with over 60 million inhabitants each. Merkel’s counterparts (when Socialists lead some big countries) cannot be leaders of small countries with no weight on European balance, which do not belong to the G-7, whose economies are almost insignificant and their populations incredibly small.
Still, neither Hollande nor Renzi are counterparts for Merkel. The first suffered for an electoral drama who will remain in Franch and European annals: he has no grip on international issues, even though he leads an important country, with which Germany keeps up remarkable and solid relationships (even though, not very quiet). In fact, yesterday at 5:45pm Merkel, Hollande and other Heads of State/Government where there, three hours before the beginning of the European Council, and started working. Together. Maybe with no apparent success so far, still they were there and they’ve tried hard, together.
Why the fiasco, then? Because Hollande couldn’t give Merkel any guarantee: each adjustment, each proposal couldn’t be the final one – the French politician could not speak “on behalf” of the Socialist in fact. No mandate to him, no mandate to anyone: they all lack the charisma needed for the position. In the end, there is no Socialist leader: the PES summit was deserted by the two main protagonists. Neither Renzi nor Hollande participated the summit where, even though among several difficulties, their partners decided the indication of two candidacies for the posts of High Representative and European Council President. What happened next? At the Council, Renzi’s staff smiled at the appointed names (at least at the two of them together), and the French delegation hasn’t even taken them into consideration. And this all happened there, with Merkel working hard at the negotiation table. Renzi was somewhere else: OK, it’s not like he was playing, he was governing; still, he arrived at the Council at 7:40pm, and commented the summit with a sentence for which, be sure, he will have to pay the penalty for: “They told us to come and close the deal, then with utmost kindness, with the kindness he always shows, President Van Rompuy told us the deal wasn’t there yet.,” lamented Renzi, who added: “I dared to tell him to send me an SMS next time in order to spare us an official travel to Brussels.” His European colleagues will make him pay the price for it. The sentence didn’t came from someone who took part at the negotiations, from a ‘point of reference’, from someone able to play his cards and lead the game. Renzi admitted he’s out of the negotiations. What’s more, he said he does not want to be part of the (but this doesn’t mean Italy has nothing to say, even something acceptable, the two paths are quite different).
41% of the Italian votes are not enough for ruling Europe. This is not a game of Monopoly in which you pay 500 and you get the hotel. You need to sit at the table, and to be able to keep your seat. Do you know what’s one of the most famous things about Angela Merkel during meetings? She takes her chair and never stands up until the end of every summit: she keeps everything under control, she is focused on this, she knows the cards she can play – and she is a true leader. Socialist leader, these socialist leaders, don’t do like this – and that’s why Populars are the dealers of Europe. Still, what happens when there’s no one to play with? The game is over, for everyone.