Early elections in Italy

Following the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, President Sergio Mattarella has dissolved the parliament. New elections are to be held in September. According to the polls, a coalition of conservative and far-right parties has the best chance of winning the vote. Europe's press is concerned.

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ctxt.es (ES) /

Many paved the way for Meloni

In Ctxt.es Italy correspondent and far-right expert Alba Sidera warns of the danger of a neo-fascist government under Giorgia Meloni:

“If she has made it this far in Italy, it's thanks to all those who have whitewashed her - from the media who insist on calling Salvini and Meloni centre-right to Berlusconi and the Grillini, who brought her to power, and a disoriented centre-left that underestimated and legitimised her. Meloni did not suddenly appear out of nowhere. She has been preparing to become prime minister for years. ... The post-fascists could rule Italy once more.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Too big to experiment with

Jyllands-Posten finds the political instability worrying and stresses that an alliance of populist and far-right parties would be as fragile now as it was four years ago:

“The winners of the [2018] election were Cinque Stelle, which promised a 'citizen's income' scheme, and Lega, the northern Italian separatist party, which has replaced its old campaign theme of freeing northern Italy with the usual criticism of the EU, migration policies and admiration for Putin. ... That government lasted 461 days before Lega was replaced by the PD, which then governed for 527 days together with Giuseppe Conte until this constellation also collapsed and Draghi was brought in. ... This might all seem like a comedy, but Italy's economy is too big to gamble with, and Europe's security too important.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

A bad omen for Macron

In a commentary piece for La Repubblica Bernard Spitz draws parallels between Italy and France:

“Mario Draghi came to power thanks to two obvious elements. He was the best and most credible person for the job in the eyes of the economic world, Italian society and the rest of the world, and he did not come from the political world that ruled before him. Just like Emmanuel Macron. Draghi's departure shows us that this will not be enough in the future - and, indeed, that it is not enough now. In France, as in Italy, we can see a political shift towards the radical, populist right, here with Rassemblement National, there with Lega and Fratelli d'Italia.”

The Times (GB) /

No destructive U-turn

The Times remains hopeful that Italy will maintain its reform course:

“An election victory for Brothers of Italy, with its neo-fascist roots, would certainly be a political shock but no more so than previous successes for the populists Five Star and Lega. The carrot of generous EU funds and the stick of bond market volatility provide powerful incentives for the next government to continue Mr Draghi's reforms. No party today is calling for Italy to leave the eurozone or EU. Nonetheless, Mr Draghi's resignation removes a reassuring presence from Europe's top table and raises fresh fears about western cohesion at a time when it is essential.”

Cicero (DE) /

A hair-raising experiment

Commenting in Cicero, the magazin's Italy correspondent Julius Müller-Meiningen foresees a right-wing populist government being elected and facing a major stress test:

“The fact that the people are now getting to have their say after the political drama is no big deal from a democratic point of view. On the contrary. Now everything points to a right-wing populist coalition coming to power, a hair-raising prospect in view of 20th century Italian and German history. Salvini [Lega] and Meloni [Fratelli d'Italia], united by the original populist Berlusconi [Forza Italia], will then be subjected to a reality test under the most difficult conditions (the Ukraine war, inflation, commodity crisis, economic crisis). A new chapter is beginning in the political laboratory that is Italy. The outcome of this experiment: unknown.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Will Italy become pro-Russia again?

Rzeczpospolita is also concerned:

“Draghi strongly supported the Ukrainians, in spite of Italy's traditionally close ties with Russia. It was he who persuaded Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz to travel together to Kyiv in June and announce their support for granting Ukraine EU candidate status. Now this policy could change radically. Meloni may have adopted a decidedly anti-Russian stance but Salvini has repeatedly expressed sympathy with Putin and is now even planning to visit Moscow. Berlusconi also maintains close ties with the Russian president. Moreover, Italy remains vulnerable to the Kremlin's gas blackmailing.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Use energy policy to correct the course

The EU needs to prove its worth now, De Morgen admonishes:

“Europe must prove to the Italians more than ever before why it makes sense for them to remain in the EU, whatever the Italexit disaster-mongers are propagating. The European support for the energy transition could be a huge opportunity. The poorer South is a potential goldmine for solar energy, the hills and planes in the North for wind energy and the mountain rivers for hydroelectric turbines. But these investments must not only benefit clever business people who park their profits offshore. Europe must not confine itself to demanding that its citizens turn off their lights or heat less; it should also award small subsidies for using fossil-free energy sources.”

La Stampa (IT) /

A gaping abyss has opened up

La Stampa is incensed by the populist parties' voting behaviour:

“A disgrace! There is no other word to describe the way the Draghi government has failed in the Senate. ... It's as if an abyss has opened up into which, together with the government of national unity, that large part of Italy that was willing to make sacrifices to regain credibility in Europe and the world thanks to the trust placed at all levels in the man who left the stage yesterday, is also being dragged down.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Self-destructive Italian governments

No wonder, sighs Corriere della Sera:

“Even Draghi, the most illustrious Italian we had, and whom we hope to see back in the service of our country soon, has paid the price for the relentless law of national unity governments. His lasted one year, five months and seven days. Five days less than that of (Mario) Monti. ... Seven months longer than Enrico Letta's government in 2013. As we can see, the bottom line is always the same. Namely that the parties in Italy do not stick to their 'broad' or 'very broad' agreements for more than a year, a year and a half at the most. After that they are seized by an irresistible 'cupio dissolvi' [desire to self-destruct] to which even the best fall prey.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

A bad day for Europe

La Vanguardia reminds readers of how Draghi became a hero of the Eurozone ten years ago:

“The seriousness of the situation can be measured by the international reaction - the calls for Draghi not to resign and also the pressure exerted on all Italian parties to avoid early elections. Coincidentally, this month of July 2022, when Draghi already has one foot outside the Italian seat of government, coincides with that famous phrase he uttered exactly ten years ago, in July 2012, as president of the ECB, in his bid to save the euro: 'Whatever it takes.' ... Draghi saved the euro. Now half the European state chancelleries want to do whatever it takes to save Draghi. The paradoxes of life. This is indeed a bad day for Europe.”