Political parties in Europe have shut out their opponents through unusual but perfectly legitimate manoeuvres.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson assumed office last month and at the same time sacking most of his predecessor Theresa May’s cabinet.
Throughout her short tenure, Mrs May’s Tory administration had proven most unstable with clutches of her ministers resigning at regular intervals.
BELOW: Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new leader of the House of Commons
New PM Mr Johnson will prorogue (‘suspend’) parliament for five weeks beginning anytime between Sept 9 and Sept 12 in order to narrow the window for any last ditch disruption by the anti Brexiteers.
Britain is set to exit the EU on Oct 31. Prorogation doesn’t dissolve a parliament. The British House of Commons can resume its sitting on Oct 14 when Queen Elizabeth delivers her royal speech.
Although House Speaker John Bercow (who is pro Remain) is unhappy with BoJo’s action that he has called a “constitutional outrage”, the Queen nevertheless has given her approval.
Meanwhile opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has characterized the bold move as a “smash and grab on democracy” (see his tweet below). How long can Johnson’s government stand?
Strange bedfellows have divorced
The political climate is just as hot in Italy. A marriage of convenience or sheer political expedience, quite naturally, will not last long.
On Aug 9, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini put forward a ‘no confidence’ motion in the Italian senate against Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “The timing of Salvini’s manoeuvre is sensitive as Italy must present its draft budget for 2020 by the end of September,” observed far left newspaper The Guardian.
Salvini heads the right-wing party Lega (the League, in English) which is strongly anti immigration. He had even broken diplomatic protocol last year when he trolled pro-immigration German Chancellor Angela Merkel, tweeting “Arrivederci Merkel” (bye bye).
Urm, it now appears that Salvini spoke too soon. It is he who is the outgoing leader, having just lost his DPM job.
To avoid Lega’s vote of no confidence, PM Conte resigned on Aug 20. This triggered a collapse of Italy’s ruling coalition comprising the nationalist Lega and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
Lega and M5S had been in office together as awkward allies for only a little over a year, since 31 May 2018.
M5S leader Luigi Di Maio is Italy’s other deputy prime minister alongside Salvini. Unaffiliated law professor Conte was “plucked from relative obscurity” and handed the premiership as a third force compromise between Lega and M5S.
Coincidentally, Lega and M5S are a mirror image of our own Pribumi and DAP … both a pairing of chalk and cheese.
BELOW: DPM vs DPM … Luigi Di Maio going ‘gong xi, gong xi’ while Matteo Salvini does Hindu greeting ‘namaste’
Collapsed Italian govt same age (15 months) as Harapan
Another parallel between Lega vs M5S, and Pribumi vs DAP, is their reversal of fortune.
Back during the Italian general election in March 2018 , Lega obtained 17 percent popular support compared to M5S’s more significant 32 percent. However came the EU election this May (2019), the level of support for Lega had risen to 32 percent whereas M5S’s slumped to 17 percent.
The two parties Lega and M5S literally switched places in terms of political strength!
An identical backflip occurred with Pribumi and DAP. Mahathir’s party has doubled its number of MPs over the last year. Meanwhile in the same period, the DAP in contrast was effectively castrated to become a little running dog.
Okay, back to Italy.
After the political crisis that stretched three weeks, president Sergio Mattarella refused Salvini the snap polls he demanded. Instead the president offered PM designate Conte another chance — this time to head up a fresh coalition consisting of M5S and the Partito Democratico (PD) or Democratic Party in English. This will entail a new cabinet.
Many 5-Star supporters however are against such pact with the opposition leftist Democrats, so the deal is not yet cut and dried.
Like Malaysia, Italy’s next general election will not come around until another three-and-3/4 years.
But long before 2023, Salvini’s supporters may be taking to the Italian streets like Hong Kong’s Hallelujah hordes and France’s Yellow Vests. Who knows if Salvini could torpedo the new M5S-PD alliance and sweep back into power.
The moral of the two European stories: Unstable minority governments are living on borrowed time.