‘Far-right’ Italy weakens Europe’s unity towards Putin, EU socialist chief warns – EURACTIV.com
Italian progressive parties should join forces to prevent the far right from coming to power as this would weaken Europe’s unity in the face of Russian aggression, Iratxe García, leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) , told EURACTIV Italy before a crucial vote on September 25.
“It would further undermine our founding values of the EU of equality, democracy and the rule of law, and it would weaken the unity and solidarity that we so badly need in the face of Putin’s aggression, due to of his nationalist agenda,” García said.
“The situation is worrying, but I am convinced that the Italians will not turn to the far right,” she added.
According to the latest poll by Supermedia Agi/You Trend, the right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni (Brothers of Italy, ECR) with Matteo Salvini’s Lega (ID group in the European Parliament) and Forward Italy (European People’s Party) of Silvio Berlusconi is expected to claim victory with 48.2%.
It is followed by the left-wing coalition of Enrico Letta led by the Democratic Party at 29.5%.
The populist Five Star Movement comes third with 10.9%, while the “Third Pole”, which is a conjunction of Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva and Carlo Calenda’s Azione, could together reach 5.9%.
García said many Italians are unhappy as they see growing social inequalities, increasingly poor working conditions and opportunities, and global challenges such as migration and the climate emergency.
“But turning to isolationism will not solve these problems,” she warned, adding that progressive parties should join forces to build European alliances and tackle these challenges together.
The Democratic Party has so far managed to unite seven left-wing parties, but so far that doesn’t seem to be enough to beat the rising right.
“The stronger we are in Europe, the more we can promote policies that ensure sustainable development, fair jobs, social justice and more gender equality. And we need a pro-European government in Italy that understands that we face the future together, as Europeans,” concluded the S&D leader.
“Letta is Right to Polarize”
According to Udo Bullmann, German MEP for the Social Democratic SPD and former S&D leader, Letta’s party is doing the right thing by polarizing itself so that Italians have a clear idea of what they are choosing.
“You have to profile your political program, your idea of the future and of Europe. It’s important to be really specific about what you’ve done and what you’d like to do, and especially to point out what’s at stake if you’re not in government,” Bullmann said.
Bullmann believes a government led by Italy’s National-Conservative Brotherhood “could open the door to an illiberal future for society” which he says is now “so colourful, so rich in its differences”.
“It would be a big step backwards if you allowed a more authoritarian and radical right-wing system to become a reality in Italy,” he said.
Referring to Mario Draghi, he expressed his doubts about what was wrong and who was responsible for the downfall of his government.
“It’s very vague. Those who are the loudspeakers on the populist side can gain from it even though they are largely responsible for the situation Italy finds itself in,” the German politician said.
A ripple effect on the European Parliament?
The upcoming Italian elections are crucial not only for the Mediterranean country but also for the European Union, as the outcome is expected to affect the political balance in the European Parliament.
For the home elections, Meloni, who chairs the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists party, allied himself with Lega, sitting in the eurosceptic group Identity and Democracy, and Forward Italy of the conservative European People’s Party.
Critics suggest this national alliance moves Italy ahead of Berlusconi to the far right, which may be reflected in his European political stances.
“We already thought in the past that the EPP was struggling to make a clean cut [with the far-right]said Bullmann, who thinks the risks go beyond the impact of the election on the EPP group.
The EPP, the former home of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party before a bitter divisionhas already faced criticism for allowing its Hungarian member to stay despite continued allegations of causing democratic decline in his country.
According to Bullmann, a “radical right” government in Italy could open the door to an “organization” of democracy in an EU founding state “bringing us back to the illiberal economic past, strengthening the illiberal sides of society and deepening the inequality “.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos]