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4th Feb 2023

Italy poised to elect far-right rulers

  • Fascist-era monument in Rome (Photo: Javier Enjuto)
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Italy has lurched closer to electing a far-right government in September after a centre-left coalition broke down on Sunday (7 August).

The centrist Azione party led by Carlo Calenda quit the left-wing alliance with the Democratic Party (PD) on grounds the PD had also linked up with more radical left-wing parties — Sinistra Italiana and Europa Verde.

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The two radical parties regularly voted no confidence against outgoing prime minister Mario Draghi and also voted against letting Finland and Sweden join Nato to protect themselves from Russia.

"Now I find myself alongside people who voted no confidence in Mario Draghi 54 times," Calenda told Italian broadcaster Rai Tre.

"This coalition was made to lose. The choice was made by the Democratic party. I cannot go where my conscience doesn't take me," he added.

For their part, Sinistra Italiana and Europa Verde had also criticised Azione on its environmental credentials.

Another small party, Impegno Civico, led by former foreign minister Luigi Di Maio, had joined the left-wing bloc on Saturday before it fell apart on Sunday.

But even if the left-wingers had managed to stay together, their side was polling more than 10 points behind the right-wing contenders.

The rightist bloc comprises the Brothers of Italy party of Giorgia Meloni, who has tried to remodel herself by criticising Russia, but who has nakedly fascist political roots.

It also includes the far-right League party of Matteo Salvini and the right-wing Forza Italia party of disgraced former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Snap elections were called for 25 September after Draghi felt betrayed by his coalition partner, the Five Star Movement party, because it abstained from a no-confidence vote against him.

The political mess comes as Italy struggles to meet EU Commission criteria for the disbursement of pandemic recovery funds.

It also comes amid fresh tension over immigration following the murder of Alika Ogorchukwa — a disabled Nigerian street-vendor who was beaten to death in the town of Civitanova Marche last week.

Police immediately ruled out a racial motive, saying the assailant had psychiatric problems.

But the lethal assault came at the same time as a viral video-clip of an Italian restaurateur slapping Beauty Davis, a black woman who washed dishes, when she demanded to be paid her wages, prompting a toxic political debate.

Authorities dismissed racial motives for Ogorchukwa's' killing because "the judges, police, governors and politicians are all white, middle-aged men who are embedded in a system of white supremacy," Kwanza Musi Dos Santos, from Italian anti-racism NGO DEI Futuro Antirazzista, told The Guardian.

Both the murder and the slapping incident were linked to years of dehumanising anti-migrant "propaganda" by Meloni and Salvini's parties, Laura Boldrini, an MP from the PD party, also said.

"We need immigrants to work in a variety of areas, but there is also this idea that you can exploit them, pay them little, insult them and hit them. Why? Because some people don't consider them to be worthy of respect," she said.

"Unfortunately there are hundreds of Italians attacked every day … we are not here to classify whether the aggression is white, black, or yellow," Salvini said on Ogorchukwa's death.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

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Meloni mood and energy in focus This WEEK

Italians cast their ballot yesterday on Sunday and chose a rightwing majority parliament, which is expected to have a turbulent relationship with Brussels.

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Europe braces for far-right Italy This WEEK

The far-right Brothers of Italy, which dominates the conservative alliance, is set to be the largest single party, and has widened its lead over the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

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