Italy and the European Union entered a period of uncertainty this Monday after the victory in the legislative elections of Giorgia Meloni, at the head of a far-right and far-right coalition that faces great challenges.
After obtaining an absolute majority in Parliament, the leader of the Brothers of
Italy (post-fascist) and its allies Matteo Salvini of La Liga (anti-immigration) and Silvio Berlusconi of Forza Italia (right) will try to form a government in the coming days.
(Also read: Giorgia Meloni: who is the first woman to come to power in Italy?)
The counting of the votes on Monday morning confirmed the clear advantage of Meloni, who obtained more than 26% of the votes.
In his first speech after the election, Meloni promised to “govern for all” Italians. “We will do it with the objective of uniting the people,” he maintained.
ABC about the results and challenges that await the government and the European Union.
How were the results?
The coalition formed by the Brothers of Italy (FdI), Liga and Forza Italia (FI) won the elections this Sunday with 44.1% of the vote, and the one in charge of forming a government will be the far-right Giorgia Meloni.
The FdL, Meloni’s party, was the most voted, with 26.2% of the votes -in the previous elections, in 2018, it obtained 4.3%-; Mateo Salvini’s League adds around 9% and Forza Italia, the formation led by Silvio Berlusconi, 8.3%, the worst results in its history.
The influx in the elections that were held on Sunday plummeted to around 63.91% compared to 72.94% in the last elections, in 2018, and which is the worst figure in history for general elections, according to the first partial data from the Ministry of the Interior.
(Also: Euro falls to new 20-year low after swing to the right in Italy)
According to the first analyses, the influx decreases throughout the country, but especially in the south and the polls that gave an abstention of 35% are confirmed.
In any case, the new executive will succeed the national unity government led since January 2021 by Mario Draghi, the former president of the European Central Bank (ECB), who took the reins of the third largest economy in the eurozone, sunk by the pandemic.
Despite the stakes, several parties that had agreed to be part of his government ended up toppling him this summer for purely electoral reasons, leading to the calling of early legislative elections.
What are the main challenges that Meloni will have?
The new government led by the far-right Giorgia Meloni with the Brothers of
Italy will have as its main difficulty dealing with the different ideas and egos of its partners.
The division of the ministries will be, for example, the first obstacle in the coexistence of Meloni’s party, Brothers of Italy (FdI) and its allies in the Executive, the far-right LIga, led by Matteo Salvini, and the conservative Forza Italia, led by Silvio Berlusconi. , But will not be the one.
The new government will also have to manage the crisis caused by galloping inflation, while Italy is already collapsing under a debt that represents 150% of GDP, the highest in the euro zone behind Greece.
(You can read: The possible victory of Giorgia Meloni in Italy worries Europe)
Considered by some economists to be the “sick” of the euro zone after Greece, Italy is crumbling under colossal debt, suffering from inflation above 9% and its low productivity considerably slows growth.
A few days after the formation of Parliament, the debate on the Budget Law will have to begin, which normally takes several weeks – if not months – of negotiations, but on October 15 Italy and the rest of the countries in the euro must have sent their draft budget plans to the European Commission (EC) for the relevant recommendations.
But it will not be the only thing that the new government must face immediately: in the first days of its mandate it will have to decide what to do with the subsidies to lower the price of gasoline, which are around one billion euros and which the Draghi government renewed until on October 31, but, above all, it will have to take new measures against the increase in energy bills.
What other problems will they have to face?
Migration and climate change are other challenges. The idea of the new coalition is to curb illegal immigration by creating “hot spots” in the countries of origin, where asylum applications will be processed.
The project is to “block the boats” of immigrants who try to cross the Mediterranean “to avoid, according to the North African authorities, the trafficking of human beings.”
When he was interior minister in 2018/2019, Matteo Salvini banned humanitarian ships rescuing migrants at sea from docking in Italian ports, stranding hundreds of people off the coast in precarious sanitary conditions.
(Keep reading: Giorgia Meloni’s rise in Italian politics)
And to fight global warming, the right-wing coalition considers a “sustainable energy transition” necessary with the increase in the production of renewable energies and resorting to nuclear energy, which Italy does not have since it does not have nuclear plants.
Meloni announced that they are going to “respect” the international commitments assumed by
Italy to fight against “climate change”. It does not use the term “heating”. She wishes to “update” those commitments, without elaborating.
Italy, ultra-dependent on Russian gas, is trying to “diversify its sources of supply” and is already fighting for self-sufficiency.
What impact does the election have for Europe?
Analysts from the Elcano Royal Institute and the Center for European Reform (CER) have already clarified the importance that the change in Italy will have for the EU.
The victory of the leader of the Brothers of Italy is part of the “booming wave” of support for radical nationalist right-wing parties, confirms the Elcano expert Ignacio Molina, for whom “European countries are not necessarily condemned to the fact that the conservative side of the political spectrum become so radicalized”, as in Italy or recently in Sweden.
In the case of Meloni, analysts do not believe that it will have enormous significance for the EU directly, since she herself has been softening her positions for the last five years and is an Atlanticist, compared to Salvini or Berlusconi who “play” with the president Russian, Vladimir Putin.
And what challenges will they have in their relationship with the EU?
The truth is that challenges do come in the relationship between Italy and the European Union.
The arrival of a far-right prime minister for the first time in Italy could complicate European unity against Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine, now that a winter is approaching characterized by rising prices and higher energy prices.
The right-wing coalition has stressed on several occasions that it will “respect the commitments made” by Italy with NATO, of which it is a part, as well as its support for Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
And it is that Meloni’s political family is historically anti-communist and ardently defends the Atlantic Alliance. But his ally Matteo Salvini has always expressed his rejection of the sanctions that affect Russia and has been an open admirer of Vladimir Putin in the past.
More than stopping Russia and bringing Putin to his knees, it is the Italians who are paying for them
“More than stopping Russia and bringing Putin to his knees, it is the Italians who are paying for them,” Salvini said, despite the fact that Meloni has reiterated many times that he will support Ukraine and the decisions taken in Europe against Russia.
Berlusconi’s position is also complex, as he is unable to distance himself from his old friend Putin, with whom he visited the Crimean territories recently annexed by Russia in 2014.
And despite the fact that the coalition guarantees Italy’s “full adherence” to the “European integration process”, it is going to ask for a “more political and less bureaucratic European Union” and demand the “review of the rules of the Stability Pact and the economic governance.
Although Giorgia Meloni has abandoned the idea of an “Italexit”, that is, the departure of
Italy of the European Union, the post-fascist leader wants to change the relationship between the parties.
“The party is over, Italy will begin to defend its own national interests, as the others do, and then we will look for common solutions,” he warned during the campaign.
The three partners “will have to find a difficult compromise that should not be taken for granted between the political forces traditionally opposed to the institutions of the European Union and those closest to the authorities in Brussels,” the professor of Political Science at the University of Pisa, Alberto Vannucci.
(You may be interested in: Europe: this is how the extreme right has managed to gain ground on the continent)
So how will they strike a balance with the EU?
For Damiano Palano, director of the Department of Political Science at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, “Italy is still exposed to the risks of a speculative storm and a dramatic debt crisis. The first commitment of the next government will be to get the support of the institutions European”.
It will be almost inevitable to abandon skeptical attitudes towards Brussels and its main partners
And for that “it will be almost inevitable to abandon skeptical attitudes towards Brussels and its main partners” because although “both FdI and the Salvini League have always had very critical positions on many aspects of the EU, the next Italian government will have to confirm the commitments acquired on the Next Generation EU, support for Ukraine and many other points”.
As Vannucci explains, the new government will have to find “a balance without tearing itself apart internally, on the one hand, and without creating ungovernable (and costly) conflicts with Europe and the main European countries, on the other”.
And in the end -argues Palano- “it will be ‘forced’ by the fragility of the public accounts to almost entirely maintain the line followed by the Draghi government”, indicates Palano.
And how did Europe react to the triumph of the right?
The European Commission said on Monday that it expects “constructive cooperation” with the future Italian government.
“The Commission and the President work with the governments that come out of the polls of the elections of the EU countries and it will not make a difference in this case. We look forward to constructive cooperation with the new Italian authorities,” said the chief spokesman. of the institution, Eric Mamer, at the daily press conference.
Germany, for its part, expects Italy to remain “very pro-Europe” despite the victory of Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist party in general elections, a government spokesman said on Monday.
“Italy is a very pro-Europe country, with citizens who are very pro-Europe, and we start from the principle that this will not change,” Wolfgang Büchner told a news conference.
A finance ministry spokesman said Germany expects Italy to respect European budget rules.
The Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, also reminded the Italian right wing on Monday, winner of the elections in that country, that Spain is “committed to European construction”, and warned that in Europe there are “two opposing models” .
*With information from AFP and EFE
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