Italy’s General Election: Not Uniformly Good News

On Sept. 25, Italy’s general election resulted in a resounding victory for the center-right coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy. Her party topped the poll with 26 percent of the vote, thus securing her the prime ministership when the new legislature convenes on Oct. 13. Meloni’s partners—Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia—suffered setbacks, gaining 8 percent of the vote each. Thanks to Italy’s complex election law, these three parties nevertheless will enjoy a comfortable majority both in the 400-seat Chamber of Deputies and the 200-member Senate.

While the results are likely to have a salutary effect on an increasingly authoritarian and woke-infested European Union—especially following the serious right’s earlier gains in France, Spain, and Sweden—it is improbable that there will be any major changes in Italy’s foreign and security policy. According to various Italian sources, including the influential center-leftist daily La Repubblica, Meloni gave assurances in the final days of the campaign to Italy’s Western partners that she would provide continuity on three key policy issues of interest to them. Those pledges were supposedly obtained by outgoing prime minister Mario Draghi, an arch-establishmentarian, as the price of Meloni “gaining accreditation.” According to La Repubblica’s Tommaso Ciriaco,

First: the new government will continue to support the commitment—including military assistance—to Ukraine, and it will not break ranks on the sanctions against Moscow. Second: the country’s stable and indisputable NATO anchorage will remain, without hesitation or deviation. Third: it will not approve any major changes to the [previous government’s restrictive] budgetary policy, in order to keep public debt under control.

Atlanticism, anti-Russianism, and fiscal restraint are what Draghi’s Davos peers really care about. Of course, it would be a bitter pill to swallow for Berlusconi—who had been personally close to Putin for years—and especially for Salvini, who believes, rightly, Italy will never kick-start its stagnant economy without deficit spending, that the U.S.-led NATO bears a great deal of responsibility for the tragedy in Ukraine, and that the ever-escalating EU sanctions against Russia are catastrophic for Europe in general and for Italy in particular. As for Meloni, her pledge that “the free ride is over in Brussels,” which was made a few days before the vote, and her earlier plea “for a rebalancing with respect to the Franco-German axis,” seem to have been replaced rather swiftly by the posture of “responsible leadership.”

In a similar vein, also on Sept. 28, the Milanese daily Corriere della Sera—the unofficial organ of the Italian permanent state—published a report by its U.S. correspondent Federico Rampini who wrote that the calm with which the Biden administration initially reacted to the result in Italy reflects its geopolitical priorities. According to Rampini, this is due, on the one hand, to Meloni’s condemnation of Russia and support for sanctions and pledged military aid in Kiev. On the other hand, it also reflects the Biden administration’s reliance on Britain and Poland, although both have conservative governments—in Poland’s case, one that is an outright antipode of the American reigning left.

Rampini concludes that the alarm repeatedly sounded by the leftist U.S. media, led by CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, on the incoming Italian government’s oppressive conservative social and cultural agenda does not resonate at the State Department, much less in the Pentagon. After all, they have bigger fish to fry:

Gaining the esteem enjoyed by a prime minister like Mario Draghi is a demanding mission. Meloni will have to demonstrate her firm Atlanticism by silencing once and for all the pro-Putinist instincts of Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi. She will have to continue and preferably increase Italy’s supplies of weapons to the Ukrainian army (so far very modest) . . . and to confirm Rome’s support for Kiev’s candidacy for future membership of the European Union.

Coupled with the demand from Brussels for strict fiscal discipline, this is a tall order indeed. If fulfilled, it would negate the winning team’s often repeated promises to protect Italy from the unending EU encroachment and to put its national interests before all other considerations.

That said, President Joe Biden has since signaled disapproval at the democratic outcome abroad. “You just saw what’s happened in Italy in that election,” Biden said at a Democratic Governors Association fundraiser. “You’re seeing what’s happening around the world. And the reason I bother to say that is we can’t be sanguine about what’s happening here either. I don’t want to exaggerate it, but I don’t want to understate it.” Though he did not mention Meloni by name, he said the victory of the Brothers of Italy highlights his commitment to electing Democratic governors.

Nevertheless, the new government may yet proceed with some woke-unfriendly reforms in the social and cultural sphere—temporarily at least—for as long as its fundamental geostrategic anchorage stays set and its fiscal shackles remain in place. Meloni is making a strategic mistake, however, if she imagines that making compromises on national interests in foreign affairs will buy her the right to proceed with a permanent conservative social and cultural agenda at home, including serious immigration control, defense of the natural family, and checks on politicized homosexuality.

Once the new Italian government’s unwavering subservience to the U.S.-led “Collective West” is confirmed, regardless of Berlusconi’s or Salvini’s misgivings, the forces of wokedom on both sides of the Atlantic are certain to spring into action. Brussels will act to ensure Rome’s full compliance with its perverted version of “European values,” especially in regard to keeping Italy’s southern maritime borders effectively open to the endless influx of “migrants” from Africa, while Washington predictably will focus on homosexual and transgender “rights.”

Just two days before the election, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed with brutal frankness the consensus of ruling Western elites that Italy is a state with limited sovereignty. On Sept. 23, she warned Italian voters that disobedience would have consequences. “If things go in a difficult direction,” she said, “I’ve spoken about Hungary and Poland, we have tools.” Von der Leyen was alluding to the EU withholding funds worth over 13 billion euros from Hungary unless and until it rebuilds its entire judicial system in accord with the wishes of the European Commission. As for Poland, it has not received a single penny from the EU COVID recovery fund thus far because it refuses to surrender its judicial sovereignty to Brussels.

Von der Leyen’s arrogance appears even more astounding because Italy is the third largest net contributor to the EU budget and has been one for decades. She does not seem to realize that Italy would leave behind a mountain of debt if it ever exited the eurozone (let alone the EU itself), debt that Germany—crippled by sanctions against Russia—and others would not be able to cover. Without Italy, the eurozone’s debt ratio would fall by ten points from 95 percent to 85 percent—but with the putative “New Lira” certain to be massively devalued, the rest of Europe would be hit by a massive financial crisis in addition to the looming recession of 2023.

Having had 67 governments since the Repubblica Italiana was established in 1946, many Italians think their lives are largely independent of those who are supposed to run the country. This time they may need to think again. As Lucio Caracciolo, editor-in-chief of the geopolitical magazine Limes, warned in his column on Sept. 28, “we can only hope that that modest margin of impact on reality that our executive will have at its disposal is wisely spent. In normal times we’d say that at worst the government will fall. This time it is the country that stands or falls.”

If Giorgia Meloni hopes to succeed with her Faustian pact of selling Italy’s body to the U.S.-NATO-EU leviathan so that its soul and mental sanity can be saved, she is naïve. If she is doing it even though she knows the likely long-term score, she is just as cynical as the Roman swamp and the Brussels snake pit she promised to fight. Either way, in the fullness of time millions of her voters are likely to be as disappointed as their American counterparts after the divine surprise of November 2016.

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