Paolo Gentiloni

Foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni has been asked to attempt to form a government. He is a rather bland establishment figure who has two interesting histories. First, back in the day, Italy (then a monarchy) didn’t get along with the pope (they fought a war with a famous battle at the pious gate (no ti sto kiddando per niente). Popes told faithful Italians to boycott elections. This tended to help the relative left (which had radical ideas such as universal suffrage). This ended with the Patto Gentiloni signed in the Palazzo Gentiloni by some people including a Gentiloni. Thus the Gentiloni family is very related to the participation of Catholics in Italian politics.

On the other hand (and maybe making up for this) Paolo Gentiloni himself has a far left past. This is true of an amazing fraction of Italians of his generation. He used to hang out with people who were expelled from the Italian Communist party for left wing deviation from the party line (I think they were the last people ever expelled from the rapidly democratizing party).

He also once said that no one who has been trained as an economist can be really left wing. This was meant as criticism of economics not leftism.

So his ancestor has a history with the ancestor of the old center-right Christian Democratic party and he personally has been far left. Thus there must be some innate dullness which makes my reaction to his surprise appointment one of mild pleasure. He’s not really left wing anymore, but, by the standards of 2016, he’s a raging red.