by Freddie Sayers
Wednesday, 15
July 2020
Video
09:00

Meet the leader of the new ‘Italexit’ Party

Freddie Sayers speaks to Italian senator Gianluigi Paragone
by Freddie Sayers

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”

On immigration:

  • “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”

On Brexit:

  • “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.”

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Tim Rowe
Tim Rowe
2 years ago

This is interesting and it will be fascinating to follow. I was Brexit voter and I am a fervant democrat. I have seen the desolatation of EU money wasted on the south Italian coast. I lived in Ireland and have seen friends comit suicide post banking crash. The EU is an dangerous entity.

Claudio Perini
Claudio Perini
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Rowe

Are you 100% sure that only the EU has a problem investing money, while all other investors of the world have it 100% fixed?
Are you sure the banking crisis was 100% EU made and would not have happened had the EU not existed?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

I have just watched the interview. Mr Paragone has obviously reached the right conclusions as to the true nature and structure of the EU, and he seems to have a realistic view of the situation as a whole. As he says, Italy is very different to the UK, and any ‘Italexit’ will be founded on different arguments. I think Freddy was a bit silly to ask Mr Paragone is he was of the right or the left. As Mr Paragone says, this and many other issues are no longer about right or left.

I am not entirely sure that Mr Paragone is correct in his assessment of Italy’s economic prospects should they leave. I have visited Italy a few times in recent years and there is no lack of enterprise or work ethic as far as I can tell. Indeed, some young people who were renting a farm were among the most inspiring people I have ever encountered. (We helped them with the olive harvest), However, I recently read a very detailed post-war history of Italy’s politics and economy, and the picture before Italy adopted the euro was not quite as rosy as Mr Paragone suggests. We all know about the endemic corruption and the huge gap prosperity between north and south, to cite just two problems.

Anyway, one can only wish him well. At least 60% of Italians now have a negative view of the EU, which is a much higher figure that you would have got had you polled the British just 10 or 12 years ago. So anything is possible.

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Were they Genuino Clandestino young farmers? I felt inspired by them when I met some at one of their artisan markets. They are locked out of subsidy, locked out of systems of organic certification and locked out by all manner of closed-shops so they simply set up and then sell direct. As one told me, ‘our guarantee to you of quality and authenticity is that you are welcome to come to our farm observe and even participate. ‘ They sold some of the best bread I’ve ever eaten in Italy! Enterprising indeed.

Matt K
Matt K
2 years ago

If this is even allowed to get off the ground it will hopefully shed a lot of light on the geopolitical games and interests in regards to the EU of China and the American deep state. I can’t see Italy being demonised and bullied, subjected to highly negative propaganda campaigns in the same way the U.K. was and continues to be by the Democratic Party/China/EU and all their various media and political players.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt K

Really? I suspect the Italians will be subjected to all manner of demonisation, propaganda and bullying, especially from the EU.

David J
David J
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt K

I’m certain this new party will endure a tidal wave of bullying and demonisation.

However, the example of Brexit will surely prove a key tool to defend against those attacks.

Matt K
Matt K
2 years ago
Reply to  David J

Well. I can’t see the New York Times referring to Italian people as ‘swamp dwelling mutton eating racists’ but maybe they’ll be able to come up with something else…

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt K

I know, absolutely appalling attack on the democratic expression of a people

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt K

Sounds like something Hillary Clinton would say

poacheruk
poacheruk
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt K

Finland and Iceland also were subjected to the EU’s Project Fear. The best defence is to point to the last three exercises in Project Fear and highlight how none of it has come true. They will recruit 5th columnists, like they did in the UK, such as Gina Miller, Heseltine and Ken Clark, and EU stooges such as Tony Blair, Theresa May and John Major, to set about trying to wreck Italexit by political chicanery and bogus legal challenges. But it can all be beaten by men of stout heart and patriotic intent. Go forth Italy, and come on into the sunshine of freedom.

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
2 years ago

“The Eurozone is constructed for the northern economies, which works well for them but not for us”. This statement is highly debatable but, even if it were true, problems with the Euro are not a reason for exiting the EU. But no, it is far easier for Gianluigi Paragone to find an external scapegoat for Italy’s economic problems than to face the corruption and massive structural issues that need to addressed if Italy wants to move forward.

The reality is, the southern/Mediterranean countries have benefited enormously from the EU. In the 1970s, Spain & Portugal were peasant economies living under dictatorships. Today they are modern, thriving economic democracies. Croatia has one of the strongest economies in south eastern Europe and France, hardly a northern country, has one of the strongest economies in Europe. The Greek economy improved after the Maastricht Treaty because it had to stick to limits on government deficit and debt levels. However, subsequent Greek Governments squandered the gains through unsustainable wage and pension increases and through allowing professional people to evade tax on a colossal scale. This economic folly was entirely of their own making, the extent of which was only revealed by the 2008 crash.

It can be dangerous when countries start blaming others for their own failings. But, of course, when you’re in politics that can often be more of a vote winner than trying to get people to face reality.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Taylor

What makes the EU the cause of progression since Franco or the solution to any country’s problems?

Claudio Perini
Claudio Perini
2 years ago

Being an Italian living in Germany I can compare a bit northern and southern way of doing things and I think that Italy has a problem with reforms, that should be addressed since more than twenty years and never are because the politicians are wary of losing votes.
For example the reform of the legal system that is slow and inefficient, its primary purpose in practice being to feed an army of peasant lawyers, legal consultants and legal “experts”. Guess who pays in the end for this useless system.
And there are many more of these systems in Italy, that in theory serve the “citizen” but in reality have the primary purpose to feed a priviledged caste. Another “caste” that comes to my mind is the one of the “taxi” drivers.
But as other have noted, as everywhere, it is easier and faster to get votes by selecting a scapegoat that by solving structural problems.

But I don’t believe an Italexit party has a big chance, because the Italians very well remember how they were robbed of their savings by consecutive devaluations in the pre-euro past.
Governments had to devaluate in order for the economy to go on exporting while paying the costs of the “systems” described above.
Maybe the Italians want to Italexit from Europe, but my feeling is that the majority of them will want to keep the euro, so their savings have a little more probability of lasting to their pension age.
This leaves us with an interesting problem to solve: leave the EU, but keep the euro (and the access to free capital markets too).
I guess the Italians will be interested to see what happens to Britain after Brexit. If all goes well and Britan shows in a couple of years a renaissance in terms of valuation of the sterling, flourishing labour market, booming of the exports and increase in the spending for healthcare and social services, then maybe the Italians will want to follow suit and become the Macao of Europe…