by Peter Franklin
Monday, 12
July 2021

Italy’s young voters are drifting to the Right

New polling shows that populism is not the preserve of older voters
by Peter Franklin
Giorgia Meloni (L), Silvio Berlusconi (centre) and Matteo Salvini (R)

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?

Here, via the ever indispensable Europe Elects, is a recent Tecnè poll of 18 to 21 year olds:

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.    

Join the discussion

  • 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.

  • 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.

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