What does political chaos in Italy mean for Europe

ITully is now heading toward an uncertain political future. Prime Minister Mario DraghiThe former European Central Bank chief who rescued the eurozone nearly a decade ago by publicly pledging to do “whatever it takes” to steer Europe through the sovereign debt crisis has given up hopes of seeing Italy through its current troubles. Italy now has to weather the storms caused by the human and economic toll from the pandemic and the energy and security crises caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with another person in charge. Draghi will remain in office until Italy can hold national elections before the end of September, but his work as leader of Italy’s rare unity government will remain incomplete.

In the words of Ernest Hemingway, the downfall of the Draghi Alliance came gradually, then suddenly. He agreed to form the government in February 2021 – 19 in Italy in 33 years – only with support from both the left and the right. Most of the other major parties agreed to give the crisis brought on by COVID-19 and the urgent need for help from the European Union. The centre-left Democratic Party, the populist anti-establishment Five Star Movement, the hard-line nationalist led by Matteo Salvini and Forza Italia were all signed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Over the past 17 months, coalition sniping has made Draghi’s life more difficult, but the need to secure relief money from Brussels and the fear that new elections could unleash chaos have held things together. Leaders of right-wing parties who believed they could win future elections knew that a national vote was due no later than next spring.

But in June, the alliance began to collapse. An increasingly hostile rift within the Five Star Movement, and then between Five Stars and La Liga, provoked alarms. When Five Star threatened to leave the government, there was hope that Draghi would continue as prime minister with a narrower alliance. But when Lega and Forza Italia insisted that the price of their continued support would be a more right-wing government rather than a unity alliance, Draghi resigned.

This disruption comes at a difficult time for Italy. This upcoming election will be the first time in decades that a national vote has been held in the fall, a period normally reserved for passing a budget. Italy needs to pass a budget to implement the reforms demanded by the European Commission in return for the promised 200 billion euros in grants and loans from the European Union Fund for Pandemic Relief. This process will now be delayed because the Italian president has dissolved parliament before the September elections. Instead of fighting inflation, seeking ways to weather a difficult winter without Russian energy supplies, and helping consumers by fighting inflation, Italy’s leaders will act out politics, direct trade insults, and issue political threats. Even after the votes are counted, it will take several weeks for a new government to be formed and put into operation.

Who will be the biggest beneficiary of this chaos? At the moment, opinion polls indicate that a coalition of right-wing parties in Italy will form the next government. Lega by Salvini and Forza Italia from Berlusconi will have seats at the table. But the biggest winner is likely to be the only major party that refused from the start to support the Draghi government, the original Brotherhood of Italy.

This means that Italians may be about to vote Georgia Meloni The first female prime minister. Meloni is 45, about 30 years younger than the man she hopes will replace him as prime minister, and her experience in government is limited, but her right-wing ideas are deeply rooted. As a teenager, she joined the Italian Social Movement, a party inspired by fascist leader Benito Mussolini. As a member of the right-wing National Alliance, she became Minister of Youth in Berlusconi’s government in 2008. She held this position, the only government job she had, for three years.

In 2014, she became a founding member of the fiercely anti-immigrant Italian Brotherhood. Defenses of “God, country, and family” and pledges to keep immigrants out are likely to feature in her campaign speeches. Its position on Europe will be more accurate. In the past, it has insisted that EU treaties should be amended, and that Italian law should replace EU rules. But she has never favored an Italian exit from the European Union, and at a time when European money is crucial to Italy’s recovery and despite the occasional familiar reference to “Brussels bureaucrats,” she is likely to underestimate her party’s skepticism about the euro. Europe’s cyclists promised that his government would liberalize competition laws and rewrite tax rules. Meloni knows that unless the next government is willing to make good on some of those promises, Italy will face deep cuts in EU funding. Nor is Melony likely to overturn the EU’s consensus on Ukraine’s support. She condemned the Russian invasion and supported Draghi’s efforts to provide Ukraine with arms and other support.

Giorgia Meloni’s bid for prime minister is far from certain. Infighting between right-wing parties and sharp swings in public opinion in the election season continues to shake things up. But Italy’s next prime minister will not have Mario Draghi’s experience in crisis management or his penchant for problem-solving to go beyond partisan politics. This is bad news for a country familiar with political turmoil.

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