Enrico Letta (Pisa, 54 years old) was correcting exams in Paris, where he was Dean of International Affairs at the prestigious Sciences Po, when the phone began to ring. The Democratic Party (PD), the formation where he grew up politically and which had given him the most joys and troubles, was mired in a new process of self-destruction in January and needed a new secretary general. Letta, a refined politician, far from the current type of communication, still had the memory of 2014. Matteo Renzi, cheered by much of the party, dismounted him from the presidency of the Council of Ministers with no other argument than to take his place. Today the Florentine has a formation to its greatest glory that does not reach 3% in the polls. Letta, who until a month ago had retired from politics,it has been proposed to turn the page of that story and float to the left.
An important part of your party betrayed you in 2014. How has the return been emotionally and what was the reason?
I have returned because there is a climate of reconstruction in Italy.
An environment similar to the one my grandparents told me about the post-World War II era.
A period where you should be.
It is the moment when the country will start again.
The arrival of [Prime Minister Mario] Draghi helped convince me, who is a great gamble and represents someone who has also decided to work for his country.
And the third, was the fact that the PD was imploding.
We were risking creating an imbalance in the government and I thought it could be useful to my country.
Four parties of the Government coalition are led by former prime ministers.
Giuseppe Conte (5 Star Movement), Silvio Berlusconi (Forza Italia), Matteo Renzi (Italia Viva) and you.
Is there no relief for the leading cadres of the parties?
It is something very strange, but he is the son of an Italian anomaly.
Our democracy is sick.
It is not possible that in 10 years we have had seven governments and six prime ministers.
Only [Mariano] Rajoy and [Pedro] Sánchez have been to Spain;
in Germany, [Angela] Merkel, and in Holland, [Mark] Rutte.
Here the category of former prime ministers is inflated.
It is a serious problem.
And more, only in this legislature there have been 200 cases of transfuguismo in Parliament.
And there is also this disease.
"The future of Europe depends on how Italy and Spain invest the funds"
Where do you locate the origin of this pathology?
There is a problem of internal rules that I would like to change and apply those of the European Parliament.
In Europe if you are not in a group that has not stood for election, you end up in the group of "not registered".
It is a purgatory, it is not a comfortable place because you can do less.
In Italy, on the other hand, you go to the Mixed Group and you have the possibility of creating groups even if you have not run for the elections.
The Mixed Group is a paradise where defectors have greater visibility, greater financial resources and are not tied to a parliamentary group.
It is the second group in Parliament today!
The other day you met Renzi, the man who stabbed you when you were prime minister, after ...
And how was it?
Well, it was a meeting between two adults, as [Yanis] Varoufakis would say.
But it went well.
In 2018, with Renzi at the helm, the PD got his worst result.
Since then it has not stopped falling and the right is consolidated in the polls.
What was done wrong?
That was the worst defeat in the history of the Italian left, and we still pay for it.
It must be rebuilt from the base of values, programs and internal behaviors based on respect.
I have started with the gender issue.
The PD only put male ministers on the Council ...
Yes, but I want to open a debate because in Italy there is no space for women.
And that must be part of the rebuilding.
"Salvini has to decide whether to be in the government or in the opposition"
The Europeanism that you claim is not very fit.
Today Europeanism is the funds of the Next Generation EU.
It is a solidarity revolution.
There has not been a more important moment.
And the future of Europe depends on Italy and Spain, to make that instrument permanent.
That is, it does not apply only to the pandemic.
Measures such as the bond and the tax on the tech giants must be permanent.
And for that there is only one condition: that Italy and Spain use the money well.
Both countries will receive half of all funds.
So if you get it right, you can convince your 27 to make this revolutionary idea permanent.
If they fail, Europe will be back to 2019 and it will be difficult to have funding for social progress.
But Draghi, unlike Conte, seems to point more towards the Franco-German axis.
It is not like that.
And the proof is that he is contemplating going to Spain on June 18 for the Italy-Spain Dialogue Forum and for a bilateral summit.
Furthermore, Italy and Spain must fight together for the new stability pact and put social Europe at the center.
The former secretary of the PD, Nicola Zingaretti, left fed up with the internal struggles.
What has been found?
They came to me because the divisions were so strong that a foreign Pope was needed, as they say in Italy.
A bit like when [Karol] Wojtyla was chosen to calm the struggles between Italian cardinals.
The party needs to put women and young people in the front row.
And that's what I'm doing.
Will the PD have to ally with the 5 Star Movement (M5S) to stop to the right?
In the 2023 elections, an alliance must be formed with Conte's M5S.
The local elections in October will be a first test.
With some exceptions, such as the mayor of Rome, where they want to keep their candidate and we want our own candidate.
Enrico Letta, during the interview at the PD headquarters in Rome.Antonello Nusca
Will Virginia Raggi [current mayor] continue?
It seems to me that she legitimately wants to repeat.
But in the next few weeks we will have our candidate.
In some places we will do it with primaries.
"The Democratic Party was imploding when they called me"
Carlo Calenda, one of the last splinters of the PD, can be the unitary candidate?
I do not think, the PD legitimately wants its own candidate and will hold a primary for the entire center-left.
And it seems that Calenda is not willing to participate.
Conte says that the new M5S will be moderate, progressive, liberal… Wasn't that the PD?
It's true, there will be a problem if we overlap.
But already in the statute that Conte is writing it is said that the M5S is neither of the right nor of the left.
And that is already a strong difference.
They have to maintain their original spirit, of rebellion.
But it is important that we do not overlap, it would be very negative.
I am optimistic, because I know Conte, I have esteem for him and we can do a good job.
What will you do to convince the voter that they went to M5S?
We lost votes from people who considered us inconsistent.
And that is a job that takes time.
That is why our interest is for the Draghi government to exhaust the legislature.
I need two years to rebuild the party and to position it.
We start from the disaster of 2018.
Draghi called Erdogan a dictator.
Do you share it?
Erdogan is a dangerous autocrat.
And Draghi wanted to mark a strong distance at a time when everything about the sofa with Ursula von der Leyen had happened.
It was tough, and I get it.
There are already divisions in the Government.
Salvini asks for the head of the Minister of Health.
Salvini is falling in all the polls since he entered the Government and began to bombard it.
I don't think your strategy works.
But he has to decide whether to be in the Executive or in the opposition.
If he is in the government, he cannot torpedo him for fear of the growth of Giorgia Meloni [his partner and rival in the right-wing coalition].
Do you think a break can be reached?
It is his method.
But Salvini knows that now he would do enormous damage to the country and himself with a rupture.
And with your ministers we work well.
The climate inside the Executive is good.
In February 2022 the new President of the Republic must be elected.
Would Draghi be a good successor to Mattarella?
[Smiles] We'll talk about it when the time comes. February is still far away.