Current Events

Rome Turns Right

For weeks, the left-wing coalition in Rome quarrels over the use of the European Union Recovery Fund. Hence, the fund of which Italy is supposed to be the main beneficiary has become a new reason for tensions after months of disputes.

Unpopular Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he may have to ask parliament for a vote of confidence, and several scenarios are considered by the Italian media, including that of early elections, no elections but a new government without Giuseppe Conte, or a third Conte regime.

FILE – In this Jan. 23, 2020 file photo, Italian premier Giuseppe Conte waits for Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama at Palazzo Chigi Government’s office, in Rome. Tensions increased throughout the day Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 as Premier Giuseppe Conte accused ex-Premier Matteo Renzi of being a ‘’rude opposition,’’ while Renzi said he was ready to break with the government after Renzi instructed lawmakers in his small party to vote against a judicial reform and ministers to boycott a Cabinet meeting. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, file)

Early elections are the less likely scenario but the left-wing coalition are all too aware that since the Conte II government was formed in early September 2019 opinion polls have consistently pointed to a probable absolute majority of the so-called ‘centre-right’ in both houses of a post-election parliament.

What Italians call ‘centre-right’ actually comprises mainly Matteo Salvini’s League party, Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy, FdI), and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Forward Italy, FI).

The League is actually labelled ‘right-wing populist’ by the liberal-left mainstream media. If opinion polls are to be believed, it would come first with some 25% of the vote. True, it has lost support during the past year, but this has benefited only to FdI which is a nationalist, liberal-conservative party considered as being even more right-wing than the League.

With now over 15% of support in most opinion polls, FdI has become the third most popular Italian party after the League and the centre-left Partito Democratico (Democratic Party, PD), and ahead of the left-wing populist party Movimiento 5 Stelle (5-Star Movement, M5S) which won over 30 percent of the popular vote in the 2018 elections.

Former PD Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is threatening to pull out of the governing coalition.

Berlusconi’s FI, with some 6 – 8% support in opinion polls, is in fact the only pro-EU, centre-right party of the three, and it might not even be needed by the remaining two to form a majority government after the next parliamentary elections.

A majority made up of the League and FdI even without Berlusconi’s FI could potentially lead to a return of Italy to its national currency, the lira, and even to Italexit, although Salvini’s League is not in favour of exiting the Eurozone and the EU unless it becomes necessary to preserve Italy’s sovereignty.

Whether the current conflicts lead to early elections in Italy or not, elections will have to be held sooner or later, the ultimate deadline being in two years’ time. Source

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