Thus spoke Italy’s new Minister of the Interior, addressing Italy’s migrant population. I have to say that I’ve been fascinated by the recent elections in Italy — it’s been quite Trump 2016-like, with populism, anti-illegal immigration and all the pearl-clutching horror from all corners of the political establishment that the stupid voters could possibly have elected so monstrous a couple of parties, the Liga (League) and the 5-Star Movement. Both parties campaigned hard against what they see as the ruin of Italy caused by “foreigners” (migrants and the EU).
Yeah, screwing up Italy should be left to the Italians. Their track record in this regard has been exemplary.
In fact, the only difference between 2018 Italy and 2016 U.S. is the Italian voters’ outright hostility towards the EU’s control of the Italian economy (and they have a point) — which was only exacerbated by the outright threats of the EU government towards the new government (see below).
But support for the election results has been pretty much universal in Italy:
Offering the new government cautious support was Italy’s small, far-right neo-fascist CasaPound party, which held its own Republic Day commemoration on Saturday. Banners featured images of a crossed-out EU flag and ‘#exIT’ written underneath, a reference to calls for Italy to leave the 28-nation bloc.
That, in fact, was what caused the political establishment to end their attempts to overturn the election results: a new election, from what I can understand, would have turned into a de facto referendum on continuing Italy’s membership in the European Union — and it’s quite clear that this scenario was frightening enough, and the “#exIt” outcome likely enough that the U.S.-style “Resistance” to the election outcome collapsed. Here’s the background to all of this:
The latest manifestation of this battle of wills between an authoritarian Brussels and individual nations trying to uphold democracy came this week with a set of extraordinary events in Italy.
After national elections in March, Italian voters committed themselves to what to the EU elite is the ultimate heresy. They voted in their millions for politicians who said they were prepared to abandon the European single currency.
The result was that two populist parties, the League and the Five Star Movement, came together to try to form a government.
There is little surprise that the Italian people are increasingly fed up with EU membership. Italy has struggled since adopting the euro currency 18 years ago.
Deprived of the ability to manage its own economy, there has been no cumulative economic growth since then.
In recent years, Brussels has imposed unelected technocrats to run the Rome government with savagely austere economic policies. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs.
Most outrageously, European commissioner Guenther Oettinger said the crisis would teach Italians not to vote for ‘populist’ parties next time.
Without a shred of evidence and in a manner akin to those behind Project Fear in the run-up to the EU referendum in the UK, he said menacingly that the financial markets would punish Italy and that votes for anti-EU candidates risked destroying the Italian economy.
In other words, if Italians do not vote the ‘right’ way the next time they go to the polls, they will be punished.
I’ve often thought that if the EU were to collapse, it would be because the Germans got sick of supporting the rest of Europe and went home. I was wrong. What started (and was crushed by Germany) in Greece has spilled over into Italy, and the Italians don’t seem to be in a mood to be bullied. (I was also wrong about getting tough on illegal immigration. I always thought it would be the French who would start — or at least threaten — mass deportations.)
This is big news. It’s the first time since the establishment of the EU — and all its forerunners — that a genuinely populist party (or coalition of populist parties, in this case) has been elected in Western Europe. (It’s akin to Britain’s UKIP winning a general election.)
Like the Italians, I don’t buy the threats of global financial collapse. For one thing, the Italian economy isn’t big enough to cause it, and the only “downside” would be if Italy’s solo efforts cause the euro — the single currency union — to collapse because other countries (e.g. Greece) follow suit.
Someone pass the popcorn. This will be interesting. And Viva Italia!