the eyes of the other are often more truthful than their own. The difference between how they look at us from abroad and how we look at ourselves is striking throughout the long night of the election results. The others, on both sides of the Atlantic, point their finger at the moon: for the first time in Italy a post-fascist party wins, for the first time it will be up to a woman to take over a government. Here we prefer to look at the finger, normalizing the result with the count of percentages and seats and glossing over post-fascism, decreed by the liberal press as an obsolete argument. As for the “first woman” the attention is already focused on the reaction of the males, her allies in the first place who celebrate on the surface but certainly in their hearts they do not like the setback.
Future historians will be more accurate. They will write that on the hundredth anniversary of the march on Rome, and while in the heart of Europe a war rages that definitively implodes the ex-communist camp of the twentieth century, in Italy a party with the tricolor flame in the symbol wins the elections and goes – legitimately, as of the rest historical fascism and Nazism – in power. This, in the end, is the fact, and historical facts are always a mixture of repetition of and difference from the past. No, a return of fascism-regime is not announced. But yes, today’s sovereignties recycle many and substantial ingredients of yesterday’s fascism. Italy does not become fascist again, but certainly the anti-fascist discriminant, the value and political foundation of the republic born of the resistance, falters. Dramatizing this fact with eyes turned to the past is presbyopic, minimizing it is shortsighted. Focusing on its causes and effects, both internal and international, in a political system like the Italian one that has not found peace for thirty years, would be the first knot to be solved.
The fact happens, first of all, with a constant abstention rate of 36 per cent, the highest in the political elections in the history of the republic, which in the south reaches peaks of 50 per cent. It means that a third of the electorate and half of a third of the country, either out of disinterest, out of desperation or out of protest, no longer believe in the electoral rite. The politics-spectacle slips more and more, it has been effectively said, into a spectacle without an audience. Where the reference to fascism or the anti-fascist discriminant sounds more or less like the quotation of a hieroglyph in a class of Martians, and the now inertial habit of voting for the latest product available and advertised on the political market, of the series, counts much more. “Let’s try it with her too, you never know”.
Secondly. Meloni wins, with a leap that from 4 percent in 2018 brings it to 26.5 percent today; but it does not overwhelm, and grows above all to the detriment of its allies (compared to 2018, the League collapsed from 17 to 8.8 percent, Forza Italia from 14 to 8). The coveted absolute majority necessary for the center-right to build presidentialism “mother of all reforms” is not there. The one to govern yes, even if it remains to be seen if and how much it will hold up to the test of the narcissistic wound of two alpha males like Salvini and Berlusconi put in line by a woman. Especially since with its 8 per cent the newborn centrist formation of Calenda and Renzi misses by a whisker the overtaking of Forza Italia, but it still becomes a temptation within reach for a possible release of Berlusconi from his Eurosceptic allies. If we add to this the differences within the coalition on economic policy and the predictable showdown within the League, the destinies of the future Melonian-led government are more uncertain than the hegemony of the right over Italian society seems shining.
Which is equal to the announced implosion of the opposite field, where the political and cultural defeat is even more striking than the numerical one. The responsibilities of the Democratic Party secretary in conducting the game are known. The hysterical break with Conte guilty of lese majesty against Draghi, the oscillations between the construction of an anti-fascist front (but without the cinquestelle) or of a programmatic alliance (with Calenda, later withdrawn), the belated shift towards contents of social policy in contrast with the previous respect to the Draghi agenda. And above all this, the underestimation of the traps of an electoral law bordering on unconstitutionality, made on purpose to reward unity and punish divisions.
As always in these cases, however, the crucifixion of the leader on duty is of little or no use, who has already announced his intention to give way shortly thereafter (perhaps to a woman, because on the left only women are used. when there are shards to glue and not when the game can be won). Clearly the problem is not read or read only, but the irreparably contradictory and unreformable nature of a party genetically suspended between (abjuration of the) left and adherence to the neoliberal creed, attached to the function of government and “pivot of the system” as the only ones raison d’etre, has recently become the guarantor of an uncritical Anglo-American traction Atlanticism after having been the guarantor of an uncritical German-trending Europeanism for decades. Nor should the blame for today’s desertification be put only on behalf of the Democratic Party. The radical left has given no better proof of itself, with the decision of the Italian Left to return to forge an alliance with the Democratic Party that is not a little unnatural given the different starting positions on the war in Ukraine, and with yet another checkmate of the area aggregated into the People’s Union.
The result was an unprecedented disorientation of the left electorate, which in part – and perhaps obtorto collo – found in the cinquestelle an embankment to entrust two messages in a bottle: the urgency to rediscover, on the left, a roots in the classes popular, and the urgency to calm Atlanticism with some more than legitimate questions about the political and geopolitical perspectives of the ongoing war. Conte’s party benefited from it, but whether it was actually the right card to bet on for this double bet is all to be seen, beyond the ability that its leader has shown in denying with a 15 percent (even though always half compared to the exploit of 2018) the predictions that gave the pentastellato movement for dead. In any case, the affair cannot be liquidated with the prevailing diagnosis of a success due, especially in the south, to a welfare system focused solely on the defense of citizenship income. The popularity gained by Conte in the first phase of the pandemic government, evidently not completely supplanted by the hagiographic mythography of the subsequent Mario Draghi government, counted in the electoral recovery.
Which will also mean something that the mainstream information does not want to hear, intent as it was, at the time of the Draghi government’s inauguration, to celebrate the dismissal of populisms by technocratic way. Sunday’s vote says the exact opposite, confirming the rule that technocracy and populism feed each other on being the other side of the other. Of course, something substantial has changed since 2013: then the end of Mario Monti’s technical government unleashed the “neither right nor left” populism of a shapeless movement such as Grillo’s 5-star movement and the right-wing one of Matteo’s xenophobic league. Salvini; today the end of the Draghi government rewards a right-wing opposition party like that of Giorgia Meloni and a movement that has become a party like that of Conte, relocated to the left and passed into opposition after a long (and two-faced) experience of government.
In a certain sense the picture is clearer, just as everywhere in the world the diverging destination of populisms is being clarified, either towards the traditionalist sovereignty of the right or towards an injection of popular vocation lost in the left. But the alternation of technocracy and populism is confirmed as the most evident, and still burning, indicator of the vertical crisis of Italian representative democracy. Even the most extenuated crises, however, at some point come to an end. It is difficult to bet that a parliamentary left can draw the energy for some palingenesis from its own defeat. It is easier to foresee that the way out will be the clash between the tightening of order that the right-wing government will try to give to a country on the verge of collapse and the social conflict that will ensue. ⬤