First 100 Days Starts with a Non-Start for Italy’s Governance

In high office — whether in politics or business — there is a critical period of settling in and stamping one’s authority on the space. It’s about building trust and showing that you are fit for the office you hold. It’s known as the first 100 days.

For anyone from CEOs to ministers those first 100 days set the mood for how you are perceived the value of work you go on to do and belief in the promises you make about what you will do next.

Italy couldn’t even elect speakers on the first day of its new Parliament.

An alliance between the far-right League and populist 5 Star Movement — long touted as the most likely solution to leading the country — squared up to its first test, and was found wanting.

If the start of proceedings is anything to go by, well more chaos and political deadlock is on the menu, with little chance of redemption.

So, first on the ‘to do’ list was electing those two speakers, one each for the lower and upper houses. That was the task for one Friday.

I have spoken before about the challenges of two polar opposites finding ways to work together. This is the perfect example. Warring parties from the election earlier this month simply couldn’t do it. What do we conclude as to the chances of creating a functioning government?

By Saturday, however, two speakers, one for each chamber, had been appointed after considerable panic and stress. Not the best foundation for conducting the search for the right people to fill highly influential roles.

It was an important first step toward the creation of a new government, but hard on the heels of an even more important miss-step in the full glare of public scrutiny.

The elections sealed an agreement between the anti-establishment 5Star and a center-right coalition dominated by the leader of the far-right League, Matteo Salvini, who emerged as the main power-broker.

All of this confirms the predicted coalition as the main power player, but commentators are already watching their early attempts to move toward forming a viable government with raised eyebrows — and many predict that the process may still take weeks if not months. I doubt I’m alone in wondering what the countdown through the rest of its first 100 days will bring.