by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 26
July 2022
Analysis
12:45

Liberals are getting complacent over Giorgia Meloni

If one outsider can disrupt Italian politics, then it can happen again
by Peter Franklin
She’s on the march. (Photo by Riccardo Fabi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

For hardline Remainers it is necessary to portray Britain as the deranged man of Europe: a uniquely riotous realm, unable to cope with life outside the EU. Thus the fall of Boris Johnson is portrayed as a chaotic constitutional meltdown — and not what’s actually happening, which is our political system working exactly as it’s meant to. 

The corollary of this is that genuine dysfunction in our European neighbours must be played down. Therefore let’s not a make big thing of the collapse of Germany’s energy alliance with Russia — an economic and geopolitical catastrophe that dwarfs the downsides of Brexit. Let’s not dwell upon the fact that Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is now the second largest party in the French National Assembly. And let’s not even mention that the Spanish far Right is back in business — and may soon enter government as a coalition partner to the centre-Right.

But most of all, let’s make light of events in Italy. Following the resignation of Mario Draghi as Prime Minister, a general election has been called for the 25th September. According to current polls, the most likely winner is a Right-wing alliance dominated by two overtly populist parties — Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy and Matteo Salvini’s League. 

It says something that the hoped-for moderating influence on Meloni and Salvini is Silvio Berlusconi — who leads the much smaller third member of the Right-wing alliance. Still, not to worry, argues Maria Tadeo for Bloomberg. Italy might be about to get a Eurosceptic government, but there’s little danger of an “Italexit”. The idea of the EU’s third-largest economy leaving the single currency, let alone the Union, “has disappeared almost entirely from the national debate”.

But what if the next Eurozone crisis isn’t initiated by the populists directly, but by the money markets taking fright at a populist victory? In the New Statesman, Jeremy Cliffe makes the case for calm. He doesn’t like the idea of the far Right taking power, yet thinks it a “relatively safe assumption” that a Meloni-Salvini government would “collapse in a year of two after much drama and little substance”. The task of “managing Italian decline” would then pass on to the “next incumbents”.

I’m afraid this is complacency on the scale of Germany’s Russia policy — and likely to come to grief. Escape from the Eurozone may be impossible for Italy, but that doesn’t mean that popular discontent will dissipate. Impotent fury has a habit of festering away. 

If Meloni and Salvini fail, then new outlets for voter anger will be found. Don’t forget that at the last general election in 2018, Meloni’s party received only 4% of the vote. Today it has more than five times that level of support. If an insurgent force can come from the fringe to disrupt Italian politics then it can happen again, especially if a nation’s desire for change is frustrated by outsiders.

The EU establishment and the liberal press shouldn’t just worry about Meloni and Salvini — but also about what and who could follow them. 

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Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
14 days ago

Peter Franklin is right to highlight the myopic focus of the Remainer BBC on the problems of the UK in contrast with real problems on the continent. He seems, however, to write himself with the assumption that a right of centre party seeking Italexit would be a bad thing.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
14 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

National broasdcasters do tend to focus on national problems – as do national audiences. Do you really want the BBC to concentrate on the real problems in Ukraine, Tunisia and Myanmar, and ignore the comparatively trivial problems of the UK?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
14 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No, simply to report problems in the UK with a sense of balance and a sense of proportion.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
14 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Well that is never going to happen. Which is why I threw out the TV almost 22 years ago to the day. (Actually, one way or another I have never paid the license fee but I was moving and I knew I would have to get one if I still wanted to have a TV, which I didn’t).

Zibibbo Settanta
Zibibbo Settanta
13 days ago

I am an italian, following italian politics since 1976 (10 years old). When you call Salvini a “far right” you are getting it completely wrong. Same for Meloni, even if her background might actually hint to the far right past.
The game is different here and now: I’m sure you will get it better during and after the incoming elections.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
13 days ago

The term “Far Right” is too frequently applied to anyone a little to the right of the commentator in question’s left wing attitude.

Matt M
Matt M
13 days ago

What are these downsides of Brexit? I’ve not seen one yet.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
13 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

As a New Yorker I don’t have a right to comment, but…
The disasters foretold don’t seem to have happened. None of them.
Even more importantly, the EU has willingly become an evil organisation. After what they did to the Greeks, and what they did to those hundreds of drowned boat people, and all the anti-democracy shenanigans (sp?), I’m glad to see that our closest ally is no longer a member of that club.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
13 days ago

What they did to the greeks? You mean they refused to forgive them their debts without making a creditors agreement? Any bank would do that.
Drowned boat people? You are right there. But what makes it hard is that the only alternative that will really work is to open the borders and let people come in in their tens of millions. Are you in favour of opening the borders of the US?
Antidemocratic shenanigans? I wonder what you mean. Maybe that the EU refuses when Greece democratically decides that they want their debts forgiven and that the Germans should pay for it? Or when the UK decides that they should keep the benefits of membership and ditch the obligations? As an American one would have thought you were used to the idea that democratic decisions by individual states do not have an automatic right to override federal policy, be it on segregation, abortion, or gun ownership.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
12 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The debts were restructured ….

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
13 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

How about:

  • queues at the borders
  • reduction of exports and GDP. Less money, in short.
  • Worsened lack of workers

What are the upsides? I have not seen any of those yet.

Last edited 13 days ago by Rasmus Fogh
Gregory Cox
Gregory Cox
13 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

FRIDAY 01 JULY 2022 7:01 AM

‘Boost for Global Britain as UK exports to EU defy Brexit challenges and hit highest level ever’

City A.M.You did not hear that on the BBC did you?

Lack of workers in many parts of UE.

French understaffing at Dover.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
13 days ago
Reply to  Gregory Cox

‘Boost for Global Britain’? Cherrypicking – a booster can always find a number to say what he wants. Current year-on-year changes are total random because of COVID effects. Long term outlook is negative.

‘French understaffing at Dover’. First you introduce new and hitherto unnecessary hurdles to slow down travel, and then you blame France for not investing enough of their own money on solving the problems you created for yourself.

‘Lack of workers in many parts of the UE’. Maybe, but making it harder for people to come and stay here is not going to help, is it now?

What were those upsides again?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
13 days ago

Merloni will be just the start of the anti woke backlash in politics around the free world…

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
13 days ago

The idea of the EU’s third-largest economy leaving the single currency, let alone the Union, “has disappeared almost entirely from the national debate”.

If Brexit has been such a success, why have the European right-wing parties gone silent in recent years on following suit? A couple of years ago they were all talking about Frexits and Italexits.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
13 days ago

The short-term pain required to disentangle from the French/German Euro is the difference. Democracy tends to take take a back-seat with many voters after this realisation sinks in.
Clever Queen Ursula has the republicans in the smaller countries increasingly “dancing to her tune”.

Last edited 13 days ago by Ian Barton
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
13 days ago

Ireland could have become the new Switzerland of Europe by leaving the EU and becoming a full blown tax haven….

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
11 days ago

It became clear how dirty the Remain side in any country would be willing to fight to stop the process of leaving. Well, fighting dirty and aggressive works. It didn’t work to keep the UK in, but it certainly shocked everyone else who thought such a disagreement could be resolved via the normal mechanisms in a way that everyone would respect. And that was the UK with a strong eurosceptic tradition. In other European countries where the pro-EU elites are much stronger still, it’s not surprising that people are chickening out of that fight.