The extreme right starts with an advantage in the key electoral campaign that begins in Italy | International
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Italy is approaching crucial elections for the country and for the entire European Union. The elections will be held, in advance, on September 25 after the abrupt fall in July of the National Unity Executive of Mario Draghi. This Friday the electoral campaign officially begins, although in practice the parties have been brandishing their electoral promises for weeks. The main formations have begun to discover their tricks, have sealed alliances and have finalized their programs in the midst of a fiery climate, with the right-wing coalition in advantage and the far-right Brothers of Italy formation, led by Giorgia Meloni, as the favorite in all the surveys.
It is the first time since 1919 that the transalpine country will vote in the fall. As the majority of voters are on vacation at the start of the campaign, political leaders have launched their electoral messages and promises on social networks, accessible from anywhere. This week, far-right leaders Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini have kicked off the first big rallies, which will intensify in the coming month.
About 50 million voters are called to decide the future Government. If the polls point in the right direction – and they have been practically unmovable for months – the most right-wing coalition in Italy’s republican history, with two booming ultra parties, would sweep the polls.
The current Italian electoral law benefits coalitions and that is why the polls give a comfortable victory, with around 45% of the vote, to the right-wing alliance, formed by the Brothers of Italy, the far-right League of Matteo Salvini and the conservative Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. The triad has agreed that, if they win, it will be the party with the most votes that will propose the name of the prime minister, so based on current polls, the candidate with the most options to do so would be Giorgia Meloni.
That option threatens to generate instability in the country and uncertainty in European politics, with the possibility of seeing a leader of the extreme right in the third economy of the euro. The 10-year Italian debt yield has risen to 3.7%, pushing the spread over German debt – an indicator of the level of risk investors attribute to it – up 2.3 percentage points from 1.37 that it had registered at the beginning of the year.
In addition, hedge funds are rushing to sell Italian public debt fearful of the political landscape due to the elections and the gas crisis, according to the daily Financial Times, which collects data from the consulting firm S&P Global Market Intelligence. These are the highest bets by investors against Italy’s government bond market since 2008.
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Betting against Italian debt has so far been a very profitable operation for hedge funds, due to the traditional Italian political uncertainty, greatly alleviated during the year and a half in which the prestigious economist Mario Draghi led the Government, and fears about the 2.3 billion euros of public debt accumulated by the country.
Brothers of Italy, a formation that emerged from the last throes of post-fascism, as heir to the Italian Social Movement, founded by collaborators of the dictator Benito Mussolini, starts as the favorite. All the polls place it as the party with the most votes alone, around 24% of the votes, 20 percentage points more than in the last elections, in 2018.
Meloni, partner and inspiration of Vox, creator of a political artifact with roots in Rome and in central-southern Italy, still has to convince the Italian power centers and a larger part of the electorate if she wants the advantage to be net. She knows that the polls benefit her and that any outburst could cause her to lose points. That is why Roman politics has opted for a low profile. She has put aside the classic vehement speeches of hers in which she spoke at the top of her voice and has chosen to remain silent most of the time. In her allegations she has tried to dilute the attacks against “Brussels bureaucrats” or “Islamist violence”.
The Brothers of Italy candidate has also publicly renounced fascism, despite the fact that her formation shares in its symbol the tricolor flame with the colors of the Italian flag that represents the parties with a post-fascist political tradition. But it seems that her old ways were just dormant. In less than a week she has accumulated a series of low blows that hint at the inflamed tone that her electoral campaign will acquire.
A few days ago, he published on his social media accounts a video of a rape that occurred in Piacenza, without the victim’s permission, to crudely charge against immigration, since the aggressor is a man from Guinea. Given the enormous controversy that arose, the far-right leader refused to apologize to the victim, who has denounced that she has been recognized in the images and she fears reprisals. Meloni has limited himself to alleging that some digital media had published the video before. This episode, an example of the radicalization of sexual violence and political instrumentalization, is not an isolated case. Establishing links between criminality and immigration has always been one of its great strengths.
In addition, Meloni has targeted young people who suffer from what she has called “deviations”, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, bulimia, anorexia, obesity or psychological disorders. “It is necessary to bring forward generations of new healthy and determined Italians”, she has launched her.
Roman politics has held its first major rally this week in Ancona, capital of the Marche region, which the far-right formation has made one of its new fiefdoms for a couple of years. The regional government, chaired by Francesco Acquaroli, of the Brothers of Italy, with the support of other right-wing parties, boasts of having made access to abortion difficult, to the point of making it practically inaccessible in the region, and of having harassed the Pride March, among other things.
On the other side in the political battle, the center-left goes to the polls disoriented, divided into three blocs – that of the Democratic Party and other small formations, that of the ‘Third Pole’ centrists and that of the 5-Star Movement – and less competitive. Former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, of social democratic tradition, leads the Democratic Party, head of the main progressive pole, to which the polls give around 23% of support. He could compete directly with the Brothers of Italy to rise as the most voted party, but he has not managed to create a grand coalition solid and broad enough to stop the right.
The war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, skyrocketing inflation, the economic slowdown, the consequences of the pandemic that are still being felt, or the investment of the European Union’s recovery fund are some of the issues that will mark the scene next month. Days of maximum tension and uncertainty are expected.
The political turmoil in Rome has added to the country’s reliance on Russian gas imports to unleash the perfect storm on markets, which are signaling growing unease over the alpine country’s economic and political prospects.
One of the main proposals of the right to alleviate the economic situation is to reduce taxes to boost consumption. The conservative coalition has outlined an ambitious fiscal plan that would inevitably lead to an increase in public spending, which in turn would make it difficult to reduce the necessary debt, which this year is expected to be around 147% of GDP.
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