Daily Archives: September 27, 2022
Italy: Curb Your Enthusiasms
Fratelli d’Italia (FdI), the most right-wing mainstream party available to the Italians, has just achieved a stunning victory. At 4% of the votes just a handful of years ago, the party achieved, on Sunday, a stellar 24% of the vote. This is a historic victory and a testament to the health of the Italian Democracy and its efficient, fair, representative electoral law (I might write more about this in future).
However, I would like to curb my readers’ enthusiasm, as it seems to me that the International press is making, in my eyes, too much of it. Allow me to explain why this is going to be, in my estimation, a welcome adjustment, but not a revolution.
The first: FdI has won together with a coalition comprising the Lega and Forza Italia (FI), Berlusconi’s party. Both of them, but particularly the latter, are “left” of FdI in social matters (the Lega, not so much; FI undoubtedly so). Giorgia Meloni will not be able to exert any of the executive power a French President (without Cohabitation) or a British PM would have. She is the dominant force of a not entirely compact group. For example, FI would never consent to the demolition of civil partnerships and would, likely, have a far more pro-American stance than the other two formations.
The Second: Meloni’s record is sketchy. She was courageous and vocal in not aborting her child when she discovered the, most likely unwanted, pregnancy, but she still isn’t married to her child’s father, with whom, as I understand, she is living in sin. She can talk beautifully about Christianity, but her track record is very mediocre at best. She seems to like the cultural aspects of Catholicism way more than the religious ones.
The third: it would be a big, big, BIG mistake to think that one quarter of the Italian voters are now “far right”. This is, most assuredly, not the case. Rather, the really representative Italian voting system allows the Country to bring a party quite up, quite fast, and make it fall just as fast, because the strictures of a strictly “first past the post”, two-parties political system are not there to stifle progress and innovation as is, quite clearly, the case in the UK and USA.
Let us put it in another way: Meloni’s success is, in great part, the fruit of her personal popularity and of the belief in her integrity, not the identification with her most controversial ideological positions. This is something that has tradition in Italy, where many voters punish their own party in order to send it a message, but are only too willing to vote for it again if conditions change. In this case, it is not unrealistic to think that a lot of FdI’s votes are “on loan” from the Lega, some of them even from the (anti-globalist, “integrity first”, but far more to the left) Five Star Movement.
In the last decades, Italians have been more and more willing to reward a politician merely because of the trust in his integrity and quality as a leader, with ideological stances taking the back seat compared to honesty and patriotism issues. This can change anytime, or when a less controversial Lega leader than Salvini emerges.
FdI chose to remain in the opposition when offered Government positions, a temptation the Lega would not resist. This stance alone brought a lot of votes on Sunday.
Still, really good politicians are, exactly, those who are able to shape a country’s thinking. This is what Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher did. Meloni is a Ronald Reagan fan, an unashamedly right wing position in Italy. Will she be able to move the Country on her, reasonably deeply felt, positions?
We shall see.
Just don’t uncork the bubbly yet.
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