Italy: what does Meloni's maiden speech portend?
Giorgia Meloni outlined her government's policies in her first speech to the Italian parliament as prime minister. The new prime minister said she plans to stand up more for "national interests" in the EU, prevent migrants from crossing the sea to Italy, promote childbearing and continue support for Ukraine. She has never sympathised with fascism, she stressed. Commentators are divided.
A missed opportunity
La Repubblica is not impressed:
“Meloni failed to set out her own vision of Italy's role in the global competition, and this is what most clearly sets her apart from her predecessor Mario Draghi. ... Furthermore, although Meloni denounced fascism by linking it to the horror of the racial laws, she did not clearly extend that condemnation to the period from 1922 to 1938. A missed opportunity, because a right-wing party that sees itself as an interpreter of the republican spirit and protagonist of the constitution that emerged from anti-fascism cannot forget that the march on Rome [Mussolini's seizure of power] - the 100th anniversary of which is in a few days' time - led to the violation of the principles of freedom and equality that Italians had won at great cost.”
Pragmatic and clear
Corriere della Sera is quite taken with Meloni's speech:
“She anchored herself in a healthy pragmatism that is an acknowledgement of the principle of reality. And in this spirit she not only set aside the slogans of the election campaign but also brought her allies, who were already leafing through the book of dreams, back to earth with a bump. In short, Meloni seemed to grow into her role immediately. She is prime minister of a founding country of the EU, firmly linked to the Western bloc, with the corresponding responsibilities and obligations.”
El País doesn't trust Meloni:
“Italy will continue to be aligned with Europe. ... But rather than assuming a pro-European tone she stressed that this was in Italy's 'national interest' - after all, Italy will receive 200 billion in Next Generation funds. And she harshly criticised the French Minister for European Affairs, Laurence Boone, who had said that Meloni's government would be subject to 'vigilance' regarding respect for civil rights. ... Yesterday Meloni distanced herself from fascism, but she didn't soften the national-populist discourse that could lead to a curtailment of freedoms within the country and a turning away from the European project.”
She could still become an ally for Russia
Commenting in Izvestia, Yelena Panina, a pro-Kremlin foreign policy expert predicts that Meloni will change course:
“In principle, Meloni's goal is simple: she wants to continue to please everyone and not be responsible for anything serious. Meloni's Atlanticist convictions should not be overestimated, however; they could change at any time if the geopolitical situation changes. So it is quite reasonable to assume that after some time and under certain circumstances she could become an adequate partner for Russia in Europe. Incidentally, Viktor Orbán also started his political career as a radical Atlanticist but then adapted his position to Hungary's national interests.”