Opinion | Italy’s Giorgia Meloni Is Extreme, but She’s no Tyrant

ROME – It happened here again. Almost 100 years since March on RomeItaly on Sunday voted in a right-wing alliance headed by a party with direct descendants from the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini.

This, to put it mildly, is relevant. The most pervasive fear, however, is not that Giorgia Meloni’s Brotherhood of Italy party will recycle fascism in Italy – whatever that means. It is that a government led by her will turn Italy into a “electoral autocracy,” Along the Hungarian inscription by Viktor Orban. During the election campaign, the center-left Democratic Party – the main rival of the Italian Brothers – obsessed that Hungary was the destiny of Italy under Ms. Meloni’s rule. They reiterate that the competition is one between democracy and authoritarianism.

Finally, Democrats ‘suffering’alarm for democracy“Failed to convince voters: According to initial calculations, this party accounts for 19% of the Italian Brotherhood 26 percent. There are many reasons for that. One thing is for sure, the picture they paint of Mrs. Meloni, as a tyrant wielding an ax for Italian democracy and ushering in an era of illiberalism, is unconvincing. For all her party’s rhetorical radicalism and historical extremism, the fact remains that it will not work in the circumstances it chooses. Constrained by the European Union and constrained by the Italian political system, Ms. Meloni will not have much room to maneuver. She couldn’t turn Rome into Budapest even if she wanted to.

The great success against autocracy in Italy can be summed up in one word: Europe. Our fragile economy – set to grow, in a best script outlined by the International Monetary Fund, only 0.7% by 2023 – heavily dependent on European institutions. Beyond the usual web of economic ties, the country is the biggest beneficiary of the European Commission-led recovery fund, which is set to disperse over the next four years at more than 200 billion euros, equivalent to more than 200 billion euros. equivalent to $195 billion, in grants and loans. Crucially, this economy-saving aid, without which the country could fall into recession, is conditioned on respect for democratic norms. Any step down one Like Orban the path that will affect the entire Italian economy, is certainly a path not to be missed for the new government.

Playing by European rules would not be as big a concession as one might think. After all, the Brothers of Italy over the years has gradually curbed its cynical instincts. In 2014, Mrs. Meloni announced that “it’s time to tell Europe that Italy must leave the eurozone.” She pledged that the party would pursue “unilateral withdrawal” from the monetary union and in 2018 she funded an invoice to remove references to the block from the Italian Constitution. However, as the prospect of power drew closer, those goals were dropped from the party’s agenda. “I don’t think Italy needs to leave the eurozone and I believe the euro will stay,” Ms. Meloni admitted last year.

In terms of foreign policy, Ms. Meloni is also consistent with the dominant view on the continent. Formerly friendly to Russian President Vladimir Putin – she asked the Italian government withdraw its support sanctions after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and congratulated Putin on his return no doubt cheating re-elected in 2018 – since Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, she has reinvented herself as a torchlighter for Atlanticism and a staunch supporter of NATO. She is currently a major proponent of a Europe-wide gas price cap, the continent’s most powerful economic weapon against Mr. Putin (and incidentally a measure by far). protest by Hungary). Whether opportunistic or sincere, such moves show how ready Ms. Meloni is to take a commonsense, European-friendly position, appeasing international partners as well as investors.

Then there is the country itself. From the outset, the right-wing coalition – consisting of the League and Forza Italia – lacked the two-thirds majority in Parliament that would have allowed it to amend the Constitution without a popular vote. Ms. Meloni’s dream of turning Italy’s parliamentary democracy into a presidential system, what critics see as the first step to a dangerous expansion of executive power, has been ruled out.

Bad coalition government management won’t be easy either. On one side is Matteo Salvini, the talented leader of the Federation. Indignant at Meloni’s rise – for which he has paid the price – and staunchly supportive of Putin, he could cause a ton of trouble. On the other hand, there was Silvio Berlusconi, who was have been warned to its partners that Forza Italia “will break with the government if it takes an anti-EU stance.” In this controversial context, it will be extremely difficult for Ms. Meloni to pass any policy that is truly disruptive. If she does, the well-heard calls to reinstate Mario Draghi, the leader of the government of national unity that collapsed in July, will grow louder.

Italy’s notoriously volatile political environment is also balanced by democratic institutions designed to promote stability and prevent authoritarian setbacks. The decentralized system is made up of 20 semi-autonomous regions and nearly 8,000 self-governing cities, firewalls for centralized control of power. The Constitutional Court, whose general legitimacy has never been questioned, is quite independent from political influence, and the judicial system has recently undergone a comprehensive process, Driven by the EU to revolutionize. Any attempt by Ms. Meloni to boast authority over herself will be met with fierce opposition.

To be sure, there are real reasons to worry. Ms. Meloni was the first post-fascist leader to win national elections in Italy after World War II, and her party is the heir to the Italian Social Movement, the reincarnation of the Fascist Party. has long since been dissolved and is constitutionally prohibited. The process of “de-demonization” that the Italian Brothers went through, including publicity reject fascist traditiondid not extinguish deeply rooted connection with neo-fascists. Party officials are often caught confused and doing business with the most sketchy far-right groups around.

Furthermore, Meloni’s concurrence, if not her current political leanings, lies in Europe’s illiberalism. Most recently on September 15, she led her party to vote against censorship of the European resolution. Mr. Orban, and she is a close ally of Poland’s ruling Justice and Law party, which is embroiled in a bitter rule of law dispute with the European Commission over government judicial control. Her background – anti-immigrant, socially reactionary and steeped in a culture of cronyism and tribalism – cannot be confused with nationalism and extremism.

Of course, all of this is problematic. But not all problems lead to autocracy.

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