by Eric J. Lyman
ROME, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Just weeks after Italian President Sergio Mattarella asked Paolo Gentiloni to fill in as prime minister, Italy has become remarkably stable.
Pollsters said consumer confidence levels have been ticking up, while the levels of political finger pointing have dropped dramatically. Calls for snap elections have reduced.
On Dec. 4 last year, voters overwhelmingly rejected a reform referendum that then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi staked his government on. On Dec. 12, Renzi formally resigned as the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement called for new elections.
Italy is now scheduled to have its next national elections in April 2018, but Five-Star Movement founder Beppe Grillo, eager to take advantage of his party's strong position, had been calling for a new vote early this year.
Part of the logic behind the call for snap elections was that Renzi was Italy's third consecutive appointed prime minister. Gentiloni's appointment to replace Renzi makes him Italy's fourth consecutive non-elected prime minister -- the first time that has ever happened in Italy -- and few have complained.
This week, Gentiloni had to hastily return from a state visit to France to undergo emergency heart surgery without a spark of controversy.
"The difference is, the figures who were so critical of Renzi are quite happy to let Gentiloni run things for a while," John Cabot University President Franco Pavoncello, a frequent commentator on political issues, said in an interview.
"There was a bitter six-month campaign ahead of the Dec. 4 referendum. I don't think the parties or the country is ready for another campaign so soon," Pavoncello said.
Alessandro Campi, a political history professor at the University of Perugia, said the new prime minister's style will also help him.
"Gentiloni talks less than Renzi did, and he has a lower profile," Campi told Xinhua. "He's less likely to attract aggressive enemies."
That's something short of a mandate for Gentiloni to push through the kinds of large-scale reforms that marked Renzi's nearly three-year tenure as prime minister. But it is still too early to know how ambitious Gentiloni will try to be in his new role.
Whatever turns out to be the case, experts said the problem of the growing number of unelected governments that helped undermine Renzi is a "fake" issue -- but one that could be used again in the future.
"The fact that these last governments were appointed doesn't mean there is somehow less democracy," Campi said.
Pavoncello agreed, "What has happened is perfectly allowed by Italy's constitution. It's a fake issue. But that doesn't mean it won't rise again if it makes sense for the right people."