Italy’s young voters are drifting to the Right
New polling shows that populism is not the preserve of older voters
We’ve spent the last few weeks obsessing about the politics of English football fans. And by ‘we’, I mean those who clutch their pearls every time they see someone waving a flag — especially if that someone is a young, working class male.
Oddly though, they don’t seem so interested in the nationalism of other countries. Let’s pick an example entirely at random — say, Italy. Where do young Italians stand on issues of national identity and politics in general?
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Here, via the ever indispensable Europe Elects, is a recent Tecnè poll of 18 to 21 year olds:
Italy, Tecnè poll
Age group: 18-21
Fieldwork: 8-9 July 2021
Sample size: 500
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) July 10, 2021
In first place, with a 23% share, is Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party. Second, on 22%, is another ‘national populist’ party — Matteo Salvini’s League party. That makes a combined youth vote of 45% for the hard Right.
There’s a further 6% for Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia — an ally of the Brothers and the League.
So far from inclining towards the liberal Left, as one might assume, Italy’s youth vote is in fact slightly more Right-wing than the population as a whole.
But just how far to the Right are we talking about? Well, it’s not all the way to outright fascism. Italy does have actual fascist parties, but their support is too small to show up in the polls. That said, Salvini’s party is a member of the ID (Identity and Democracy) group in the European Parliament. This puts them in the same category as Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom.
Meloni’s party is in the somewhat more moderate ECR (Conservatives and Reformists) group, but it has a history that stretches back to the ‘post-fascist’ Italian Social Movement — which was founded by followers of Mussolini.
There are good reasons why Italians are so disillusioned with establishment politics. Italy has had the economic life sucked out it by its membership of the Eurozone — and it is young people who pay the heaviest price. When the glow of Sunday’s victory fades, Italy’s underlying problems will still be there — and so will Meloni and Salvini.
It’s worth bearing this in mind before buying into the narratives that (a) populism has peaked, (b) that Right-wing populism is the preserve of grouchy old people, and (c) there’s something peculiarly nationalistic about the English.
The first of these propositions cannot be taken for granted; the second depends on the country in question; and the third is demonstrably untrue.
The question then arises, if the indigenous young in countries such as Italy and France are moving to the right, why have so many taken the opposite tack in the UK? I offer two reasons. First, Italy’s culture remained more conservative at heart throughout the later twentieth century in all social matters, and they did not have to cope with large scale immigration until recently. Second, they are free from the propaganda matrix foisted on the public by the Beeb, the universities and the permanent state. But for those key differences, the utter mess which is migration and asylum in Britain today would be alienating everybody. You may not be able to fool all the people all of the time, but bamboozle a sufficiency and make sure that they are young and you’re in business. Old Toothbrush pulled the same trick, but this lot has adapted the message: “Tomorrow belongs to me – and my millions of friends from the third world”.
You may not complain about the Been until you’ve had a taste of Italian TV.
Not true. In the first place, nobody is forced to pay for Italian TV, whilst here we have the infamous TV poll tax. That jolly well gives us the right to complain. Second, the glories of the Beeb are from at least ten years ago, if not more. Now it is no more than a red propaganda unit – continual hectoring from news, drama, documentaries and so-called “comedy”. And after promising to reform under the be-jeaned and turtle necked twit who recently took over from Lord Hall, they go and hire a hack from Huffpost. Complain about the Beeb? Many of us will not be satisfied until Broadcasting House has been turned into a sports centre and the whole institution it houses today is atomised.
In my experience, countries on the continent – particularly Spain, Italy, Greece and to an extent France have always had more extreme tendencies. Fewer people seem occupy a moderate middle ground on the left or right. As a general rule, you have more anarcho-communist students and youth, vs a very Catholic, conservative older generation.
See the popularity of parties across these countries that are much more right wing than the Tories or even UKIP.
At the same time there has always been a core of extreme Communist sympathies. In Bologna for example, they have public celebrations in honour of Mao (yes that’s right).
I think people in the UK have got more extreme in recent years, particularly on the left, but it’s been that way for years on the continent. Although as this article points out well, that demographic is shifting somewhat.
Thanks for an article on The Right which didn’t include the pointless sobriquet ’far-right’!
For the sake of Italy, I hope this is a sign of things to come.
“That makes a combined youth vote of 45% for the hard Right”
Hard right being that which is not centrist Left. I know you call yourself Conservative, but in the sense that you are one of the Guardian variety of tame conservatives, allowed to wander about the place to show how they tolerate diversity. But anyway, I am glad you are super moderate Left only, which makes you Right under the modern fact of ‘Red Shift’ (a Physics thing where light wavelengths lengthen as objects are moving apart.)
Right out of laws of Physics, as the UK Conservatives and Left move faster and faster apart the wavelengths shift to longer, and thus to the Red side of the spectrum. Although then you have ‘Reverse Red Shift, or Blue Shift,’ which is wavelength shortening as things come together – and thus to the Blue side of the spectrum, which may be what is happening in Italy as they watch their Wonderful society and culture crumble because of……
Well Meloni and Salvini’s rhetoric has been hard right and overly racist for years and years, and there is no denying it. That’s where all their support comes from.
Terms like ‘racism’ and ‘hard right’ are no longer meaningful because they are mostly used to silence people with perfectly normal positions on any number of issues.
Quite so. And even supposing the massive support for Salvini and co were “racist”, by what right does the Left imagine it can impose “anti-racist” policy? In other words, what price democracy? And does your antagonist imagine that such “attitudes” are unheard of in other cultures? Or that they are not infinitely more virulent? It’s all peace and love the length and breadth of Arabia, is it? Non-binary couples can stroll the broad boulevards of Teheran in all the bliss of their togetherness, can they? Oh, but that’s their culture!
The Left’s double standard is reaching monster proportions, such that no more than a hair’s breadth divides it from the hardest of the hard right: simply call Europe’s people a “culture” and justify their every, instinctive take on life without the slightest constitutional modification, just as the Left does with every other group, and you’ve got actual fascism, far, far to the right of anything the so-called “racist” “far-right” of Signor Salvini actually proposes.
So, the reds are in the ludicrous position of screaming blue murder at words, at raised eyebrows, at wrinkled lips in westerners, whilst ignoring or excusing the worst imaginable excesses as carried out by others. This is the height of insanity – like the delirium of a fevered patient; and either the fever breaks or the patient dies.
The Left can argue and campaign for what it likes. You sometimes have at least to admire their energy. The Right, if these terms are now meaningful, can oppose them politically. While I agree with some of the usual culture war analysis about the woke movement, they don’t (yet) have political power and it is up to those who disagree with them to rigourously oppose them, rather than this endless defeatist and rather unmanly whingeing (I know, I do it too….).
I like the way on these comments that the British people go from being the heroes of Brexit, to a bunch of moronic dupes (covid etc) according to the context.
Boris Johnson isn’t our white Knight anti – woke hero, nor remotely ideologically consistent, but he is notably politically astute and by that definition a true populist, even where that winds up the libertarian Right, or whoever.
On the contrary, the Left does have political power, regardless of elections. It staffs the civil service, among many other institutions. Witness the quasi-official support given to “BLM” by senior mandarins and the imposition of “unconscious bias training”. As for the British people morphing from heroes to dupes, this is a generalisation which may have purchase on some but not on me. I never indulge in foolish “exceptionalist” rhetoric; you don’t have to believe that a group is special to understand the virtues of moderated nationalism. As for campaigning, you may have noticed that conservative voices have found a friendly outlet here. This enables the exchange and reinforcement of conservative ideas, which will issue in real world decisions, just as a glass filled will ultimately overflow. Last and most definitely least – Johnson: neither astute nor authentically populist; in fact, an opportunist – and a fairly short term one at that – a man who floats and basks on whichever stretch of water currently bears him. And his decisions are clearly alienating many – HS2, IR35, Huawei – for each blunder a large number of core and potential supporters have gone. The adjective most commonly applied to him today is “spineless”. If ever we do recover from this patch of cultural bad weather, he will be seen as the Heath to some subsequent Thatcher.
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