Forza Italia: Antonio Tajani: “Salvini and Meloni are not the extreme right” | International
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Antonio Tajani (Rome, 69 years old) responds from the car that brings him back to Rome from the last campaign act in the south of Lazio. Forza Italia, the party he leads -with the permission of the great leader and founder, Silvio Berlusconi (85 years old)-, is fighting inch by inch to maintain a certain influence in the coalition that it forms with the far-right parties of the League and Brothers of Italy already the one that all the polls give as the winner on September 25. But the formation, a subsidiary of the European People’s Party in Italy, is today the minority partner of an artifact in which the extremism of its allies has gained strength.
Last July, Forza Italia contributed to the fall of Mario Draghi, absenting himself from the classroom when the vote of confidence was voted. Three heavyweights of the party resigned for it, opening a crisis in the party, whose leadership remains in the hands of Berlusconi. Tajani, vice president of the EPP, denies any responsibility and, above all, stresses that they will be a key piece so that their far-right partners do not cross certain limits and maintain the Europeanist, Atlanticist and pro-Ukrainian character in the coming years.
Ask. Ten days before the elections you are caressing the government.
Response. The majority of Italians are in favor of the center right. And it is important to promote Forza Italia because it is the pro-European, liberal, Christian Democratic party, in favor of NATO and strong relations with the US. We are a guarantee for investments in our country.
P. Why does a party from the EPP family like Forza Italia ally itself with parties on the arc of the extreme right?
R. They are not in the far right arch. The Conservative Party voted for Ursula Von Der Leyen and Roberta Metsola in the European Parliament. The center-right’s unitary program underlines Italy’s position in Europe, with NATO and against the invasion of Ukraine. It will not change international politics.
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P. So for Forza Italia, Brothers of Italy and La Liga are not far-right parties?
R. No, they are right-wing parties. And we are a pro-reform, liberal, Christian Democrat party.
P. Already but…
R. But it is that there is also an electoral law that forces to go in coalition so as not to lose the majority of the deputies. In Italy, 66% is proportional and the other 34% is majority. Without a coalition you are out. That is why the four parties on the left kill each other and are going to lose the elections. We have always talked about the unity of the Italian right, which is not similar to that of Marine Le Pen. We would not be with parties against NATO, Europe or the US
P. Well, Salvini is an associate of Le Pen or Geert Wilders in Europe. And Meloni defends many theses of the Visegrad parties. His partners do not have a great pro-European tradition.
R. Now they are all for Europe. On Monday Salvini said it clearly. And I think there is an evolution in the political strategy of both. Forza Italia is the guarantee, and the president of the EPP, Manfred Weber, has said so.
P. Forza Italia is no longer the majority party in the coalition and its ability to contain these pressures from the League and Brothers of Italy will also be diminished.
R. That is why we ask for the vote for a pro-European government where the center is strong. Our goal is to be that guarantee. Because nothing can be done without Europe.
The abortion law will not change. Another thing is that there are Catholic doctors who are opposed to practicing it”
P. Salvini’s hesitation with Euroscepticism or Giorgia Meloni’s recent attacks on Brussels do not give confidence in this regard.
R. No one cares when in Spain Podemos demonstrates against NATO during its summit in Madrid. And it is so because the PSOE is the guarantee in that coalition. And look, in Italy, the League and Brothers of Italy voted in favor of the two new NATO countries. And a part of the left voted against.
P. Seen from Spain, it is interesting to understand if the EPP will act in the same way with Vox and legitimize the alliance with the Popular Party.
R. For us the guarantee is the Spanish PP. Just like here is Forza Italia.
P. Will the economic policy of the coalition be very different from Draghi’s agenda?
R. Draghi’s agenda was his. We have a very clear position: tax pressure is the most important problem and companies must be helped. We have four million small and medium-sized companies and we have to give them a hand. We must also reduce bureaucracy and reform civil justice, the times are too long: they represent an impact of 2% of GDP. Rules must be created that promote development and SMEs. Also combat unemployment, favor agriculture… We will try without increasing the debt, but companies must be defended because the price of energy is a disaster and we must act at a European level.
We will try not to run a deficit, but if the rules to defend companies cannot be respected, more money will have to be spent
P. For all this, will it be necessary to incur a deficit?
R. We will try to do it without deficit. But if the rules cannot be respected, more money will have to be spent to defend the network of companies, which involve work. We ask for a recovery fund so that Europe can develop in energy, agri-food, defence, immigration and the reconstruction of Ukraine. And what Mrs. Lagarde has done by raising rates is a mistake: Europe is not the US Inflation is not internal, here it is due to the price of gas. And if we pay more for the money, we will kill the companies.
P. With the result that is expected on the 25th, and with which the right-wing coalition could have two thirds of the seats, will they reform the Constitution?
R. Our idea is to make a constitutional reform in favor of the direct election of the President of the Republic. Something similar to the USA or France. But we want to do it by talking to all the parties.
Our idea is to make a constitutional reform in favor of the direct election of the President of the Republic. Something similar to the USA or France”
P. On the subject of civil rights such as abortion, issues related to the LGBTI community or violence against women, how will the backward movement that is sensed in the rhetoric of its partners be avoided?
R. The abortion law must be respected and will not change. If there are doctors who object because they are Catholic, that is another problem. And violence against women is a cultural problem too, and you have to act from the family with the children: they must respect their sister and their mother. And explain that love cannot be a prison for women. And that’s values.
P. If Forza Italia won, would Berlusconi be prime minister?
R. He has said that he would like to be the coach.
P. And you, do you see yourself as foreign minister?
R. I would like to be a deputy. And then we’ll see what I do. I like to work, do politics and export my work experience in Brussels and all the international relations acquired to help my country and Europe.
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