As a divided Italy heads towards elections, a sharp turn to the right is likely

As a divided Italy heads towards elections, a sharp turn to the right is likely

Italians will soon vote in national elections and the country his 70th government since founding Republic in 1946.

Recent voting intention poll point to a significant victory for the right-wing coalition led by Meloni’s Georgia party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy). The results could be the country’s first female prime minister, but questions remain about how right-wing she will govern, how long support will last, and how she will respond to European and international pressure.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi waves to lawmakers at the end of his speech to parliament in Rome in July 2022.
(AP Photo/Andrew Medikini, file)

Italy is notorious for its political fragmentation and government instability, often struggling to last an entire year with the same cabinet in power.

Astute political maneuvering has led to the rise and fall of many coalitions and technocratic governments over the past few decades, including the recent national unity government of Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, who collapsed in July 2022.

Hanging Parliament

This election is significant because it is the first time since 2018, when the anti-establishment Movimento Cinque Stelle (Five Star Movement) and the Lega (League) won. most seats in a hung parliament and found a leadership compromise with non-political leader Giuseppe Conte, who served until January 2021.

Draghi was then appointed Prime Minister by President Sergio Mattarella, with the support of all major parties except the Brothers of Italy, to stabilize the government during recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic, including oversight of critical European Union financial support for Italy.

This campaign also seems to be lost to Meloni, as her support has risen from four percent in 2018 to 25 percent today.. Together with her right-wing coalition partners Matteo Salvini (League) and Silvio Berlusconi (Forza Italia), they are approaching 50 percent and are projected to win potentially large majorities in both the Italian Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

The centre-left coalition, made up of the Democratic Party and other smaller parties with less than 30 percent support, has decided not to partner with the Five Star Movement and risk being ousted to the opposition for years to come.

The blonde speaks into the microphone and points up.  Behind her is a sign that says Meloni.
Georgia Meloni speaks at an election rally in Ancona, Italy in August 2022.
(AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

To the victory of the right?

Meloni had been in politics for a while, joining the post-Mussolini era neo-fascist party, the Italian Social Movement (MSI) as a young man.

By 2008, at the age of 31, she became The youngest minister of Italy, portfolio manager for youth and sports in the Berlusconi government. In 2012 she founded Fratelli d’Italiaand since then the party has grown, conjuring up the old rhetoric and populist political stances of both MSI and Berlusconi’s former right-wing partner, the National Alliance.

Filled with confidence as a result of recent poll results, Meloni is showing a ‘ready to manage’ stance in the latest phase of the campaign.

Her party surpassed the traditional right-wing parties of Forza Italia and even the League.

The leader with the most votes in a coalition usually becomes Italy’s prime minister, and Meloni knows it. She attempted to allay fears about some of her radical proposals and anti-European rhetoric by declaring that she would rule on behalf of all Italians. in support of the EU and NATO unions, but with a completely different tone than previous governments.

Populism Meloni in Italian style

Like her populist predecessors in Europe, Meloni focused on the soaring cost of living, demographic crises, pandemic fatigue, migration and economic woes, with typical promises of returning power to elites, securing borders and reviving the economy through tax cuts. and rules.

Promises include revisiting Italy’s massive EU recovery plan after COVID-19, amending the constitution to elect the Italian president by universal suffrage, imposing a sea blockade on migrants from Libya, and integrating fewer Muslims.

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All this is aimed at returning the cultural values ​​of the “traditional” Italian family, which means rolling back the clock on LGBTQ+ rights and even promising to ban Peppa Pig episodes for using same-sex couples in an animated children’s show.

As she pursues this policy and moves closer to allies such as France’s Marie Le Pen and Hungary’s Viktor Orban, observers are concerned about Italy’s drift to the right.

However, whether her main coalition partners Salvini and Berlusconi – two powerful men with their many supporters – will support Meloni as prime minister for many years remains a question. Although the parties share some libertarian economic views and traditional cultural views, their differences are significant.

League under Salvini worked for years to expand your attraction the rest of Italy and drop your northern, secessionist moniker (previously called Lega Nord), focusing on migrants and the EU as scapegoats for Italy’s ills.

But Meloni appears to have poached a large number of right-wing and disillusioned voters who temporarily sided with the Five Stars and the League in 2018 with a similar but more forceful one. populist promises.

Berlusconi as kingmaker

Enter Berlusconi. He was pushed retire in 2011 during the sovereign debt crisis in favor of technocrat Mario Monti and was convicted on a number of charges related to prostitution and tax fraud.

He performed public works and was banned from Parliament, but this ban was removed by judge in 2018.

A balding man in a dark suit smiles and waves.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi waves to reporters as he arrives at the Chamber of Deputies to meet Mario Draghi in Rome in February 2021.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Perhaps he is ready to become the head of the coalition. Appearing as a more responsible, pro-European statesman and centrist than his partners, he could have great influence on governance and politics if the election results were tough, and could threaten to withdraw his support at any moment.

This could mean that Meloni’s governing style and far-right promises will be tempered by her centrist partner.

Perhaps an even more important moderating influence will come from the EU and the international community. Italy has been an important member of NATO and the EU.

A heavily indebted government also depends on EU recovery funds and financial marketsThus, any drastic financial measures or egregious violations of human rights in the field of migration are likely to be met with pressure from the international community and the EU.

Time will tell how far the right-wing Italy will move in the coming year and what happens if it does, and there is no doubt other far-right parties in France, the Netherlands and Germany will be taking notes.

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