Freddie Sayers speaks to Italian senator Gianluigi Paragone
First there was talk of Grexit, then Brexit — will Italexit be next?
Gianluigi Paragone is a member of the Italian senate, previously with the Five Star movement but now sitting as an independent, who has a grand plan to launch a new party. Its mission is clear: to take Italy out of the European Union.
It’s early days and it hasn’t even launched yet — but we wanted to get ahead of the game and understand his rationale. Here are some key quotes:
On why the party was created:
- “The Italian political scene lacks a party that explicitly proposes Italy’s exit from the EU and Eurozone… This gives Italians the first ever opportunity to express their view”.
- “All these so-called eurosceptic parties in Italy believe that the EU can be reformed from within. I don’t believe that… We need a party that doesn’t lie to its citizens about this”.
On the EU and Eurozone:
- “The Eurozone is constructed for the northern economies, which works well for them but not for us”
- “The EU is not reformable and there is a high risk of the system collapsing due to its intrinsic instability… It is the biggest political fraud of the past few decades”.
- “The EU was not built for citizens and on the interests of citizens – it was built on top of their heads and against their interests”
- “It is built to favour the interests of big financial capital and multinationals, which is the opposite of what made Italy great”
- “The EU effectively legalises tax evasion and tax havens in a completely legal manner…It a system that allows multinationals to exploit low labour costs and take the profits abroad, which damages Italy”
- “When you compress fundamental economic and social rights for so long, it’s perfectly normal for people to vent against the system, which includes immigration”
- “Immigration should be seen as part of the neoliberal story… There are states that have been flattened from above by financial capital and markets and from below from uncontrolled migration flows. This leads to the complete destabilisation of economies”
- “We have a constitution that managed to weave together in a beautiful way three very different political traditions: socialism, liberalism and Catholicism…It is based on a perfect balance of rights and duties”
On whether he is a Leftist:
- “It doesn’t make much sense to ask this question because the Left today has more than anyone else betrayed its ideals by embracing neoliberalism”
- “I want to fully restore the rights of citizens — whether that is Left or Right, I will leave it to the people to decide”
On how the Party can succeed:
- “Our biggest ally is the EU because it is showing its true nature… It’s inevitable that opposition to the system will grow”
- “There’s no structure to leaving the EU and monetary union so we should see this as a medium term political struggle for freedom, autonomy and rights… The greatest lie that the EU continues to peddle is that there is no turning back, which Brexit proves”
- “We do not have a majority but we have a big enough majority to get into Parliament, which polls show”
- “In spite of the European straitjacket, Italy has one of the biggest manufacturing sectors in Europe and I have no doubt that it can stand up to any kind of financial threat”
- “Comparing Italexit to Brexit is an intellectual exercise — you can’t take Brexit and imagine how it plays out in Italy because it is different in so many respects”
- “Northern countries consider the southern countries PIIGS – we are never going to see a political union emerge in this cultural context.”