Home News The Italian elections change the European political balance – Pierre Haski

The Italian elections change the European political balance – Pierre Haski

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The Italian elections change the European political balance – Pierre Haski

This morning Europe is no longer the same. The clear victory of Giorgia Meloni and her far-right coalition alters the political balance on the continent, even if in all probability the new Italian leader will initially move cautiously.

Commentators still don’t know how to define Meloni. Her political history and that of her party, Brothers of Italy, sink into the country’s fascist past, a past that, however, in recent years, Meloni has undertaken to hide under the carpet. Fratelli d’Italia is sometimes described as a “post-fascist” party, others as “ultra-conservative” and “populist”. In Italy, the coalition to which he belongs is officially called the “center-right”, with a strange concept of “center” which demonstrates the extent to which Meloni has managed to confuse the waters.

In 2018 Steve Bannon, once the damned soul of Donald Trump and guru of the US ultra-right, had proposed to Meloni to be “the reasonable face that allows right-wing populism to triumph.” Bannon, the man who had tried to federate the European far right, cannot celebrate “his” victory in retrospect, because he is too busy with US justice and deprived of his passport.

Political earthquake
It is significant that the first congratulatory message for Meloni came from Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian Prime Minister in open war with Brussels on matters of the rule of law. A few years ago Orbán had theorized a political earthquake in Europe once Italy was conquered, even if at the time the Hungarian leader was betting on Matteo Salvini, leader of the League and now a partner in Meloni’s coalition (but with a reduced weight).

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In any case, even if Meloni’s ideas on the future of Europe are closer to those of Orbán than to those of Emmanuel Macron, we can assume that the new prime minister will act with caution. On the other hand, since the Bannon and Orbán projects, the situation has changed, first with the covid and then with the war in Ukraine.

Hard hit by the pandemic, Italy got the biggest share of the European recovery plan, about 200 billion euros. Certainly Meloni will not want to endanger this windfall linked to a project developed by Mario Draghi, head of the outgoing government. The Italians would not forgive you a conflict on this issue.

Meloni will have to face two challenges: that of relations with the European Union, with little room for maneuver, and that of relations with coalition partners, which will not be simple.

The war in Ukraine will be a test of this balance, because Meloni has supported Ukraine with conviction (even with the handover of arms) while his two allies, Salvini and Berlusconi, show a declared pro-Russian attitude.

But it is above all on the future of the European Union that Meloni risks having a decisive role. As long as he leads Italy, in fact, we can forget the planned revisions of the treaties and the strengthening of the Union.

A far-right prime minister in Italy, the founding country of the Union, constitutes an unprecedented challenge for a Europe grappling with a war on its doorstep, with an impending economic crisis and with the definition of its role in the new world. Europe, in fact, is no longer the same this morning …

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(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)

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