by Francesco Borgonovo
Tuesday, 27
September 2022
Analysis
07:00

Italy’s Right-wing alliance is not as stable as it seems

Giorgia Meloni will have to play a delicate balancing act
by Francesco Borgonovo
(L-R) Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi and Giorgia Meloni. Credit: Getty

Observing the initial results of the Italian elections, one fact appears very clear: everyone has lost except Giorgia Meloni. Italy’s soon-to-be first female Prime Minister obtained three times as many votes as Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, and well over double Matteo Salvini’s League.

But, in many respects, the under-performance of Meloni’s Right-wing rivals could actually have a destabilising effect on her coalition. Her relationship with Berlusconi and Salvini has never been as close as the media has made out, and these two wounded allies can cause her problems.

Although Berlusconi was never a serious contender for office, his party’s 8.1% of the vote is significant. He intends to make his presence in the alliance felt, signalling to Meloni that he sees himself as kingmaker of the coalition. Were Meloni to try to isolate him or his party, Berlusconi could easily return the favour by joining forces with other parties. As the Right’s most pro-EU voice, the media tycoon has maintained ties with elements of the centre-Left, meaning that if Meloni pushed it too far with Ursula von der Leyen, Berlusconi could threaten to form a new government with other political forces (including Pd).

The relationship with Salvini is more complex. Defeated and downtrodden, the party leader will be looking to regain the initiative, which he could do by placing himself as a more ‘sovereignist’ and critical voice within the future government. Adopting this position would also be partly due to political pressures within Salvini’s own party: the governors of the northern regions have always been more vocal than the South, and they may be tempted to voice their Euroscepticism more loudly if things aren’t going well.

This means that Meloni will be left with a delicate balancing act: criticise the EU too much and risk alienating Forza Italia, but say too little and anger the League.

But the truth is that Meloni does not want conflict with the European hierarchies. Indeed, she wants to continue support for Ukraine and remain loyal to the United States. More cynically: she took power, and she intends to keep it. Although her allies will try to make things difficult for her, it is unlikely that she will suddenly turn into the new Viktor Orbán.

Almost all Italian newspapers worry about the alleged illiberal tendencies of the Right, but Italy is not likely to become an illiberal democracy. The real problem is that the Right-wing coalition is not as united as it appears and it remains to be seen how long they will last as a government (assuming they form one in the first place). None of the three parties agree on, for example, how to deal with rising bills and runaway inflation, which is bound to pose a significant challenge. So while the Fratelli D’Italia may enjoy their day in the sun, they may, as we say here, end up turning into Fratelli coltelli, or brothers of knives.

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Arkadian X
Arkadian X
2 months ago

So, nothing new under the sun.
I suppose she will have to bide her time until Methuselah leaves for the pearly gates (assuming he is not there already…) and then deal with his successor.

Steve White
Steve White
2 months ago

I think her success will depend on how bad things get in Europe this winter, and if her party will be able to effectively navigate energy issues well for Italians, and also if Italians perceive that her party does help save Italy and put it on a better path.
So, what needs to happen is results, but also results that translate into Italians feeling like they are doing good things. Some of this will be inescapable for the very left leaning Italian news as it crafts narratives against her party, because Italy will be able to compare it’s state of being (or what they percieve it to be) against things happening in other EU nations.
Most of my Italian friends think and say that nothing ever changes in Italy. All they have ever known is corruption at some level or another, and that politicians just come and go in an endless ineffective continuum. So, there is a sort of apathy that is deeply sunk into them here. They’ve been screwed a long time, but most of them that I know are left of center. Most of them have bought into the exact oppisite of what Meloni stood for. So, I don’t personally know anyone who voted at all, and certianly not for her.

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve White
M. M.
M. M.
2 months ago

Last edited 2 months ago by Matthew M.
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

You keep posting messages about the US ceasing to be western and Hispanic culture predominating by 2040, but for us Europeans it is unclear what is unwestern about Hispanic culture and why we should be worried. As far as I am aware Hispanics seem to be fairly conservative and Catholic with a culture derived from Spain and Portugal unless it is suggested there will be an outbreak of Aztec ritual sacrifice in the US when the Hispanics become 40% of the population. Perhaps you can let us Europeans know why having more Hispanics is a bad thing.
Having looked at your info on the issue it seems to be based on a piece of misconceived ARPA legislation that has been challenged in the courts as discriminatory and since repealed presumably because it didn’t stand a cat’s chance in hell of being upheld. The problem does not seem to be Hispanics but woke guilt-tripping democrats of various ethnicities lead by a senile English origin white man who likes to pretend he is just Irish – bigoted fool but not Hispanic. There seem to be plenty of Hispanic republicans who do not favour such policies not least Ted Cruz.

M. M.
M. M.
2 months ago

Francesco Borgonovo wrote, “This means that [Giorgia] Meloni will be left with a delicate balancing act: criticise the EU too much and risk alienating Forza Italia, but say too little and anger the League.”

The root cause of the political instability is the prime ministership. The defection of a coalition partner in the parliament can cause the prime minister to lose his job.

If Italy had a presidential system and Meloni became president, then she would remain in power until the end of her term, which can be set at a minimum of 4 years in a new constitution. She would be directly elected by the citizens and would not depend on coalitions to survive.

Also, Italy, Germany, or the United Kingdom are potential leaders of the West. A presidential system better facilitates that leadership than a prime ministership.

Meloni should take steps to create a presidential system with the expectation that Italy will replace the United States as the leader of the West.

By 2040, the United States will cease being a Western nation, due to open borders. By 2040, most Americans will reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture will dominate. In California, 40% of the residents are currently Hispanic. Most residents of the state already reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture dominates.

Get more info about this issue.

M. M.
M. M.
2 months ago

Last edited 2 months ago by Matthew M.
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

You keep posting messages about the US ceasing to be western and Hispanic culture predominating by 2040, but for us Europeans it is unclear what is unwestern about Hispanic culture and why we should be worried. As far as I am aware Hispanics seem to be fairly conservative and Catholic with a culture derived from Spain and Portugal unless it is suggested there will be an outbreak of Aztec ritual sacrifice in the US when the Hispanics become 40% of the population. Perhaps you can let us Europeans know why having more Hispanics is a bad thing.