Are humans “naturally” selfish or is cooperation in the formation of societies “natural” to our species? Human nature is a starting point for classical political realism. Realists view human beings as inherently egoistic and self-interested to the extent that self-interest overcomes moral principles. Italy has been plunged into chaos after former prime minister Matteo Renzi, testing his already low popularity, withdrew his tiny party from the country’s ruling coalition in a largely unpopular move by provoking a political crisis. The political meltdown, comes at the worst possible time for Italy as it struggles to contain the pandemic and emerge from economic quagmire with ambitious plans to relaunch the country’s economy by spending €200bn in grants and loans from the EU’s recovery fund. What happened seems nothing short of absurd and surreal. Most Italians have other problems: millions of them are facing the descent into poverty and tens of thousands of businesses are on the brink of closure. Renzi’s manoeuvre has left observers baffled, and critics have denounced what they call an irresponsible attitude by some political figures, who they believe are acting in their own personal interest to block meaningful reforms to the justice system and the Italian government attempts to extricate itself from the symbiotic relationship that exists between the Mafia and politics. Italian President Sergio Mattarella summoned former European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi to halt political turmoil and appealed to “all the political forces in the parliament” to support a “high-profile government”. The new government marks the rise to power of Italy's largest majority in its 75-year old republican history, but challenges lie ahead in defining a common agenda and tackling dissent. The parties forming the ruling alliance, including former opposition groups Forza Italia with its historic ties to the Sicilian mafia and the sovereigntist League, must now overcome their political differences and work together to implement a shared programme, according to ruling coalition forces. The expectations that ‘Super Mario’ will be able to reverse Italy’s fortunes are therefore as high as the stakes.

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