What will change after Italy's veer to the right?

The right-wing alliance led by the post-fascist Fratelli d'Italia (FdI) party will have an absolute majority in both chambers of the Italian parliament. FdI, the right-wing populist Lega and the conservative Forza Italia secured 112 of the 200 seats in the Senate and 235 of the 400 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Commentators discuss what this means for the countries of Europe.

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Portal Plus (SI) /

Don't condemn Meloni yet

Former diplomat Božo Cerar advises a wait-and-see approach on Portal Plus:

“Whether Meloni's statements were sincere and her internal party efforts successful will soon be evident in the actions of the FdI-led right-wing governing coalition. We will see whether we are really dealing with a conservative party of a modern type - and nothing else. ... Meloni managed to convince the coalition partners regarding Ukraine and the stance vis-à-vis Russia, and to silence Salvini. ... So we will see whether the FdI's rhetoric is followed by deeds.”

Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Refugee problem can no longer be ignored

Meloni declared as recently as August that she would push back refugees if they continued to come, Cumhuriyet points out:

“With this attitude it's not hard to guess what this pushback will look like. If things go on like this the Mediterranean will soon be a migrant graveyard. ... Because Italy is not the only country facing this situation. In many European countries migrants are an essential 'tool' for electoral propaganda. The Western states, which only view the internal conflicts in Asia and Africa with their own interests in mind, are now learning from living examples that such problems know no geographical borders.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Do not react to provocations

Croatia should not let itself be provoked, journalist Inoslav Bešker writes in Jutarnji list:

“Meloni appealed eight years ago for 'Croatia to give Istria and Dalmatia back to Italy'. I don't think this will become a basic goal of her government, but her antipathy towards Croatia is well known. ... Should we fear fascist and irredentist provocations? Probably. But that would be nothing new. It's up to the Croatian government, politicians and media whether they become a sounding box for every fool or simply ignore them, as the vast majority of the Italian public does.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Putin can rejoice

Aftonbladet notes that the post-fascist Fratelli d'Italia are not the only winners of the Italian election:

“With the new far-right government in Rome, Viktor Orbán can count on a secure ally. In the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin has a new opportunity to stir up controversy over sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine. The real winner of Italy's election can be found in Moscow.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Meloni's power is limited

Rzeczpospolita is not particularly worried for the EU:

“In the past Meloni has praised the British for Brexit and voiced doubts about the euro. But the closer the elections came and the more real the prospect of her coming to power, the more cautiously she chose her words. Although Italy is one of the largest countries in the EU, it has limited sovereignty in its economic and foreign policy, and Meloni will quickly realise this. ... Her opposition to abortion rights and LGBT rights is well known. But that won't change anything at the EU level as Brussels has no competence in these affairs. ... In view of all this it does not look like Meloni is about to change the EU.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

The bankruptcy politicians are back

Hospodářské noviny is worried about how the new government in Rome will handle the economy:

“The people who will now take the reins are the same ones who almost bankrupted it last time. ... The politicians of the current right-wing coalition were in power for most of the time between 1994 and 2011. ... Most of problems that plague Italy today can be traced back to that period. Their reign ended with a scandalous resignation in November 2011, at a time when Italy was on the brink of bankruptcy and the departure of their incompetent government was widely seen as a necessary condition for the country to have any chance of fighting its way back from the abyss to dry ground. And now these very politicians are back.”

La Croix (FR) /

Protect values but take concerns seriously

Moderate parties need to find answers to the issues highlighted by the far right's successes, La Croix urges:

“The nationalist breakthrough in Italy comes shortly after the historic results of the Rassemblement National in France and the far right in Sweden - parties that thrive on the migration issue, the difficulties of integration and identity-based tensions. How can we respond to cultural concerns and the feeling of social decline without ceding on values on which the European pact is based, starting with solidarity? These issues must no longer be neglected by the other parties. Otherwise there is a danger that the next even higher nationalist waves will wash away the entire Community edifice.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Stop the abstention trend

The "Rosatellum" electoral law introduced in Italy in 2017, under which only a third of the members of parliament are directly elected and the rest are determined by lists depending on the parties' performance, has greatly reduced voter turnout, editor-in-chief Marco Tarquinio laments in Avvenire:

“Unfortunately this legislation has only reinforced the creeping trend towards non-voting. ... The result is a bitter record: abstention has risen by around ten percentage points to over 36 percent, an unprecedented level in a parliamentary election. Out of dissatisfaction, disgust or resignation, more than 18 million Italians decided not to take part in the ritual that is fundamental to any democracy.”

ctxt.es (ES) /

Heading for unusual levels of instability

Ctxt.es sees fundamental changes:

“Italy is the most extreme and earliest example of a process taking place in many European countries. ... Italy's political system is starting to resemble that of the Latin American countries where it has not been possible to establish a stable party system (Peru or Ecuador) or where traditional parties have been displaced by new political forces (Chile or Colombia). We should reflect on whether European politics is not moving closer and closer the fluid state of Latin American democracies. ... What political principle can stabilise the democracies?”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Risk factor Rome

The change from Mario Draghi to Giorgia Meloni will do major damage to the country's reputation, Corriere della Sera fears:

“It cannot be ignored that this new phase is seen as a risk and even as a trauma by some governments. With the Italian results coming hard on the heels of the Swedish ones there are fears of a domino effect in continental alliances, with a revival of sovereignism and increased goodwill towards Russia due to the presence of the Lega and Forza Italia in the coalition. Much will depend on the internal balance of power. ... But the direction will already become clear with the first statements of the winners regarding the relationship with Europe and the sanctions against the Putin regime.”

Novi list (HR) /

No one can afford additional tensions

Novi list finds the shift to the right in Rome worrying:

“The election result in Italy is not a good sign for the EU. The bloc is facing one of the most difficult times in history because of the energy crisis, which is turning into an economic crisis in the shadow of the war in Ukraine and fuelling discontent among citizens. If Meloni becomes prime minister, tensions between the EU institutions and Italy are virtually inevitable. One must hope that realism will prevail and that there will be some degree of cooperation, because too much tension between Rome and Brussels is a luxury that neither side can afford.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Good reasons not to alienate the EU

The Cyprus Mail sees conflicts above all with regard to the common position on Russia:

“Continued access to the EU's Covid recovery fund, which has promised Italy €191 billion over the next six years, should keep Meloni from straying too far from orthodox economics. If the EU withholds those funds, her prospects of remaining in power would be slim. With the Russian energy blockade promising a hard time for Europe economically this winter, however, the obvious strategy for far-right parties is to advocate a softer line on Putin's war in Ukraine.”

El País (ES) /

Fend off attacks from within

Brussels should threaten to withdraw the funds if Rome dances too far out of line, El País urges:

“Europe is entering uncharted territory for a second time: the first time was Brexit. ... Never before has a government in Western Europe been led by a neo-fascist-inspired right that blatantly flaunts its anti-European scepticism and bellicose nationalist populism. ... But the fact that Europe is entering uncharted territory does not mean that it cannot institute control mechanisms when several deliveries of European money are still outstanding. ... Italy is openly drifting to the far right, but Europe must tighten its control mechanisms against those who seek to destabilise the EU itself.”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

No authoritarianism from Brussels, please!

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's statements just before the election were an inadmissible interference, fumes Dániel Galsai in the pro-government Magyar Hírlap:

“'If things go in a difficult direction - I've spoken about Hungary and Poland - then we have the tools' - this was Ursula von der Leyen's heartfelt message to the Italian voters. ... By the way, here in Central Eastern Europe we are quite sensitive to comments like 'we have tools'! We used to hear such things in the early fifties, in Stalinist times, from the mouths of communist thugs.”

Onet.pl (PL) /

Promises will soon prove unfulfillable

This governing coalition won't last long either, Onet predicts:

“In Italy it's generally the fiercest critic of the current government who quickly gains enormous support, wins (usually early) elections and then just as quickly loses popularity again because reality doesn't allow it to keep its unfulfillable election promises. Their government falls and another golden-tongued speaker takes over and captivates the masses. Two of Ms Meloni's nationalist coalition partners have already suffered this fate: Silvio Berlusconi, the founder of Forza Italia, and Matteo Salvini, the leader of the strictly anti-immigration Lega.”