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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Debt and Russian sanctions: Why cracks are emerging in Italy’s far-right alliance

Italy's rightwing parties are expected to win upcoming elections by a landslide, but their strong alliance is now threatened by deepening disagreements over Russia and the budget deficit.

Debt and Russian sanctions: Why cracks are emerging in Italy's far-right alliance
League party leader Matteo Salvini and Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni are standing for election as part of a right-wing alliance. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

With just weeks to go until Italy’s general elections on Sunday, September 25th, splits are emerging between the two hard-right parties tipped to win power.

Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy is leading opinion polls, putting her on course to become prime minister as part of a coalition with Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigrant League.

The pair are campaigning on a shared populist, eurosceptic, nationalist agenda, but in recent days have been increasingly at odds on how to respond to the energy crisis gripping Europe.

Salvini has called for more help for companies and workers facing soaring electricity and gas bills this winter, either at a European or Italian level – even if it means borrowing more.

“I prefer to put 30 billion in debt on the table today, than put 100 (billion) in two months time to pay for a million unemployed or redundant people,” he told Radio Capital on Tuesday.

He noted this put him at odds with outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi and also Meloni, who has sought to reassure international investors that the eurozone’s third largest economy will be safe in her hands.

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“Going into further debt is the last resort, because Italy is already indebted out of control,” Meloni said last week.

Salvini, who in the past was open in his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been critical of Western sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, saying they are not working.

He condemned Russia’s actions, but said on Tuesday: “The sanctions have been in operation for seven months, and we are on our knees, not Putin – and the war continues.”

“Let’s go ahead with sanctions, yes, but Europe must protect entrepreneurs, workers, traders,” he said, noting how the EU had mobilised billions of euros for countries — including Italy — hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Meloni has strongly supported Ukraine and sanctions against Russia and on Sunday emphasised the importance of holding the line.

“A serious nation that wants to defend its interests must take a credible position,” she said.

Salvini’s League party won almost 18 percent of the vote in 2018 elections that brought him to power. But he has been losing support to Meloni for months, polling at just over half her tally of around 24 percent.

FdI continues to enjoy the largest share of the vote, according to opinion polls. The right-wing coalition, along with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, is expected to take some 46 percent at election overall.

While the centre-left Democratic Party is just behind FdI in the polls, it has not formed the alliances with other large parties needed to take a large enough share of the vote to challenge the right-wing coalition.

Asked by Radio Capital if the two parties would argue over Russia and other issues once in government, Salvini said: “absolutely not, we have a busy five years ahead. We have different origins and cultures, but it is a commitment.”

“I can’t wait for the 25th of September, from when for five years we will be judged by our work,” he added.

Member comments

  1. Why is it that any party contesting the WEF backed ‘prescribed reality’ and the muffled and paid-for mainstream media is automatically labelled ‘hard-right’ or now ‘post-fascist’? The Local would do well to understand that it is not part of the MSM and should take a more impartial approach.

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POLITICS

Italy’s Meloni upset over ‘unacceptable threat’ from French minister

Italy's soon-to-be new PM Giorgia Meloni condemned French European Affairs Minister Laurence Boone after he expressed concern over Italian civil rights under the new cabinet.

Italy's Meloni upset over 'unacceptable threat' from French minister

Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, whose party triumphed at last month’s general election, demanded a public explanation earlier on Friday after a French minister suggested that rights may be at risk under the country’s new government.

European Affairs Minister Laurence Boone told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that Paris will “pay close attention to the respect for values and the rule of law” once the new cabinet is sworn in.

READ ALSO: Italy’s Meloni begins tricky government talks after election win

“The EU has already demonstrated its vigilance towards other countries such as Hungary and Poland,” Boone added, citing the two Eurosceptic governments that have clashed with Brussels over civil rights.

Meloni, whose post-fascist Brothers of Italy party won the September 25 vote by a big margin, said that the comments appeared to be “an unacceptable threat of interference

against a sovereign member state of the European Union”.

READ ALSO: The five biggest challenges facing Italy’s new hard-right government

“I trust that the French government will immediately deny the words”, Meloni said, adding that she hoped that “the left-wing” daily had in fact misinterpreted Boone’s words.

Meloni, a fierce defender of Catholic family values, is the leader of a right-wing coalition that activists fear might pose a threat to civil rights, from abortion to same-sex marriage.

READ ALSO: How could Italy’s new government change the constitution?

Italy’s most far-right government since World War II is expected to take up office by the end of October, with the two newly formed houses of parliament set to convene no later than October 15th.

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