News Europe The double face of Meloni

The double face of Meloni

The first speech before the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, has confirmed the double characteristic that was sponsored in the last stretch of the electoral campaign on what the first far-right government would be like in one of the founding countries of the EU . On the one hand, a foreign policy in general lines within the economic and security parameters agreed upon by the community partners and, on the other, a significant variation in internal policy on civil rights and institutionalism that, although it does not represent a radical rupture, does suggests a worrying restrictive drift.

On the positive side, the first woman to head an Italian Executive yesterday made it clear in her vote of confidence speech before the deputies that Italy will continue to be aligned with Europe regarding the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine, using the expression “Putin’s blackmail ” to refer to the energy crisis that hangs over Europe and supported the push for renewable energy at this time. But make no mistake, because far from using a “Europeanist” tone, Meloni stressed that these measures serve the Italian “national interest” —it is not in vain that Italy will receive 200,000 million from Next Generation funds— and launched a harsh attack against the declarations of the French Minister of European Affairs, Laurence Boone, who had assured that there would be a “surveillance” on the Meloni Government in terms of civil rights. His attacks on the EU did not end there, because he criticized the existence of a “first division” Europe and “a second division”, and wrapped his alignment with Brussels in a national-populist rhetoric that, if necessary and in the name of national interest, could allow him to go back.

But it is on the domestic front where the leader of the Brothers of Italy showed her ultra-conservative facet. Although she assured that she will not limit the current civil rights or abortion, she charged against illegal immigration and announced that she will propose to Brussels a “naval blockade” in the Mediterranean, an initiative that was the subject of harsh controversy during the electoral campaign. Her disposition to an institutional reform —read constitutional— of a presidential character deserves special mention, an idea that raises strong misgivings among those who fear that in practice it supposes a half-open door to authoritarianism.

Meloni has staged a smooth transition with the team of his predecessor, Mario Draghi, and yesterday in the Chamber he renounced fascism, but he has not mitigated the national-populist discourse that gave him victory at the polls and that can lead to a cutback in freedoms in the interior and a divergent drift of the European project. He was right then Minister Boone with his warning to monitor what the Italian Government does because her actions from now on may have influence on the European electoral map.

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