The timing could not have been worse for a political crisis to erupt in Italy. While the European Union has shown itself united in its support for Ukraine in the face of its aggression by Russia on February 24, Italian leader Mario Draghi was forced to resign on Thursday morning after being disavowed by three parties of his coalition in the Senate on Wednesday evening. The president, Sergio Mattarella, immediately decided to dissolve the Assembly, triggering early elections.
Italy now risks seeing the most right-wing parties take power. Because the arch-favorite in the upcoming election is the so-called “center-right” coalition, which brings together Forza Italia, the right-wing party of Silvio Berlusconi, and the far right represented by La Ligue of populist anti-migrant tribune Matteo Salvini and Fratelli d’Italia. What consequences for Italy, the European Union and France could this accession to power of the far right have? 20 minutes asked the question to Dominique Moïsi, special adviser to the Institut Montaigne, according to whom “the risk is to create contagion to other European countries”, including France.
What timetable for the legislative elections?
These early elections caused by the dissolution of the Assembly by the Italian head of state should be held at the end of September or the beginning of October. The Italian media put forward several possible dates for these elections: September 18 and 25, or October 2. If several dates are thus mentioned, the only certainty: they must be held within 70 days of the dissolution of parliament. Thereafter, parliament must convene within 20 days of the poll. In the meantime, the government in place continues to manage current affairs.
The situation is complicated by the budget, which must be presented to parliament by October 15. The organization of elections, the electoral campaign, the appointment of a government and then its assumption of office upset this calendar. But according to The echoesthis date could be brought forward before the election and allow Marion Draghi a last act in power.
What political future is taking shape in Italy?
If we must not sell the skin of the bear before having killed it, the polls agree to place the most right-wing parties as favorites in the race, led by Brothers of Italy, led by Giorgia Meloni. The latter is given the lead with nearly 24% of the voting intentions, ahead of the Democratic Party (22%) and the League of Matteo Salvini (14%), according to a poll by the SWG institute carried out on July 18. The party of sulphurous former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia, is due to win 7.4% of the vote and Giuseppe Conte’s 5 Star Movement (M5S) 11.2%.
According to Dominique Moïsi, “we still have visions of what will happen” and “Giorgia Meloni is cited to succeed Mario Draghi”, he predicts. “This vision of an alliance of the most right-wing parties taking power is worrying,” he adds.
What are the consequences for Italy?
Indeed, this rise of the extreme parties can be harmful for the image of Italy. The country “which had once again become self-confident, legitimate and led with a rational and competent hand thanks to Mario Draghi will take on a populist dimension, with, for the first time, the risk of an illiberal democracy among the founding countries of the European Union”, predicts the special adviser of the Institut Montaigne.
For the Italians, this also rhymes with a change of policy, particularly on the question of immigration. Italy is one of the countries on the front line facing the flow of refugees who wish to flee poverty, war or repression in their country of origin. If Frères d’Italie come out on top with Forza Italia and La Ligue on their side, the behavior towards migrants risks being different, “less humanist”. “If there have already been populists in power in Italy, they have been contained so far, there it will be completely different”, warns Dominique Moïsi.
What changes at the economic level?
Moreover, whereas until now Mario Draghi had succeeded in imposing a program of major economic reforms, making Italy once again a good pupil of the European Union, this could quickly change. “If this coalition comes to power, won’t it engage in a populist economic policy? asks Dominique Moïsi. And to develop: “It risks opening the coffers in order to favor purchasing power before any other consideration, which involves a risk in the balance of the European Union, knowing that the country is the third economy of the EU. »
And if in the short term, this economic vision can benefit the Italians, in the long term, on the other hand, it can be very bad, with a “debt which will gallop and cast doubts on the stability of Italy”, abounds the specialist.
What repercussions can be foreseen for the European Union?
If Dominique Moïsi does not believe in the possibility of an Italian-style Brexit, “the risk is contagion. If the Italians have succeeded in having the far right elected, why not France tomorrow, and other countries the day after tomorrow? It is the precedent that is dangerous”.
Especially since there is also the risk of an alliance of member countries with far-right governments, like Viktor Orban’s Hungary, with a policy of nationalism and populism. This will then raise the question of EU unity, particularly in the hot file of the war in Ukraine. “Giorgia Meloni followed the positions of Mario Draghi on Russia, but this is not the case of Matteo Salvini or Sivio Berlusconi, renowned for their closeness to Vladimir Poutine”, recalls Dominique Moïsi.
Can France also undergo this change of power?
This trend, if confirmed in the fall, “is not good news for Emmanuel Macron”. The French president and the former Italian Prime Minister had a privileged relationship, they are “two men who understand each other, who appreciate each other”, underlines the specialist. Especially since the tenant of the Elysée and Matteo Salvini already share old quarrels about the Franco-Italian border, which some refugees are trying to cross.
“There is therefore a risk for Emmanuel Macron and the Franco-Italian relationship, and beyond, for European cohesion, in its image and its choices in terms of foreign policy”, analyzes Dominique Moïsi.