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09/23/2022

Italy: elections in a country of limited sovereignty

Italy: elections in a country of limited sovereignty

By Antonio Napolitano

Italy is now on the verge of a very important electoral round, as it comes at a crucial stage where Rome, along with the other EU countries, risks sinking into the abyss caused by Western sanctions and embargoes on Russia after Moscow launched a special military operation to demilitarise and denazify the Kiev regime. 

Italy, a country where foreign policy has long been mistreated and is actually controlled by the United States through NATO bases and military forces scattered across the peninsula, would need a strong discontinuity. The country needs a strong, authoritative and independent government, capable of a courageous break with the insane Western policies of war on Russia to re-establish relations with Moscow. Only in terms of energy; given that Italy imports about 45% of its annual gas needs from Russia at a very affordable price, without gas from Russia there is a risk of industrial desertification and that people cannot heat their homes.

Such a government, however, is not on the horizon and therefore Rome, like the other major European capitals, will most likely immolate itself on the altar of Washington’s interests.

A government of rupture is not in sight because all the main forces that have a chance of victory, profess to be pro-European, Atlanticist, on the side of Ukraine, and thus in favour of sanctions against Russia even if these are hitting the industrial and economic fabric and the Italian people to death.

At this point, a partial review may be useful to understand the Atlanticist homologation of the main Italian parties. While Quisling Mario Draghi (recently awarded by Kissinger in Washington as Statist of the Year) has openly demonstrated all his Atlanticist submission, other liberal parties clash over minor issues not to show the Italian people their alignment with the dictates of the USA and NATO.

Liberal and Atlanticist centre-right

Let us begin with Fratelli d’Italia, the post-fascist political formation, which all polls show that it is leading the electoral preferences of Italians. To dispel any doubts about the international positioning envisioned for Italy by the heirs of the Italian Social Movement, we read from the programme document ‘Notes for a conservative programme’ of Fratelli d’Italia: «Our active participation in NATO is more necessary than ever. The Ukrainian crisis has brought the importance of collective defence back to the fore, but it has also unbalanced the Alliance’s interests towards the East. This is natural, but the southern flank also presents a high risk of instability. Italy must therefore maintain a firm and balanced position within the alliance on Russia».

In the same document, it is written that «the Europe of defence does not claim to stand in opposition to or as an alternative to the Atlantic Alliance. The EU and NATO are different but perfectly complementary organisations; a stronger Europe makes NATO stronger (…) avoiding placing the security of our countries almost exclusively on the shoulders of the historical American ally, with all the political limitations that this entails (…) Italy will have to maintain a credible national military instrument to participate fully in the construction of European defence, through the achievement of 2% of GDP in defence spending».

This position has been contradicted with the events that have shown how the European Union has been annihilated and sacrificed for Washington’s interests. Far from complementary or a stronger Europe, the sole purpose of the United States is to provoke the industrial, economic and social devastation of the European Union in order to keep it even more under its yoke and to avoid a possible union of Europe and Russia.

At a public event held at the end of last July, the leader of Fratelli d’Italia, Giorgia Meloni, further reassured Washington saying: «We reiterate that we will be unambiguous guarantors of Italy’s position and absolute support for the heroic battle of the Ukrainian people. I can say that an Italy led by Fdi and the centre-right will be a reliable Italy on international tables», are the words of Meloni reported by the daily ‘Il Messaggero’.

It is the party leaders themselves who seek and claim the approval of the United States. «The perception of Giorgia Meloni in the United States is that of full reliability», especially with respect to support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

The president of the Copasir and Fratelli d’Italia senator Adolfo Urso told the Ansa agency a few days ago directly from Washington: ”Today at the Business Council I had a meeting with Ambassador Volker (former US ambassador to NATO), who at the end gave me a note in which he said he had confidence in the role of Fratelli d’Italia and in my and the party’s commitment to NATO, in order to support Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia, with the fact that Fratelli d’Italia has zero connections with Moscow», showing the note to the journalists present.

The same operation is being conducted with Brussels. On this front too, Fratelli d’Italia assures that it wants to continue on the path already taken by previous governments. Berlusconi’s former minister Giulio Tremonti, now one of the economic minds of FdI, told Politico: «With this kind of Europe, which is radically different, we can get along».

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Forza Italia, is considered close to Putin because of his personal relationship with the Russian president and his attempts to bring Russia closer to the Western camp in the past. Berlusconi also has a clear stance on this issue: «I can say that we are a strictly pro-European and Atlantic political force», Berlusconi said in an interview with the daily Avvenire. 

A stance he confirmed to the Tg3 microphones: «Our presence in the government is an absolute guarantee that the government will be liberal, Christian and above all pro-European and Atlanticist» Berlusconi said, adding that his party would walk out of a government that might possibly deviate from the Atlanticist and pro-Europeanist path, on which Italian governments usually be.

Within the centre-right coalition it is usually Salvini’s Lega di Salvini that is criticised for being a pro-Russian political force. In an interview with Bloomberg Salvini was quick to make his definitive profession of Atlanticist faith: ‘My opinion of Putin really changed during the war because when someone starts invading, bombing, sending tanks to another country, well, everything changes».

In the same interview Salvini also supported Italy’s commitment to the NATO military alliance, stating that international relations «do not change for us».

Regarding sanctions on Russia, the League confirms that it is in favour, although Salvini invites reflection: «The Lega has always voted for both sanctions and aid to Ukraine, including military aid. So I have never expressed a different stance», Salvini explained to the newspaper ‘Il Giornale’. «I have only ever said, and I repeat, that the war will end thanks to diplomacy. Regarding economic sanctions, the question is different: the complaint launched by the Monetary Fund, the Economist and other authoritative institutions shows that Russia has enriched itself by having a huge trade surplus, European countries have been greatly damaged. I would not like the sanctioners to suffer more than the sanctioned. Do they want to continue? Fine. But then Europe should offer support to Italian families as it did for the Covid crisis. That is why state aid should be extended until 31 December 2023».

Liberal and Atlanticist centre-left

Moving from the centre-right to the centre-left coalition, the music does not change. In this coalition we find the proudest supporters of the opposition between ‘democracies and autocracies’, as stated by Democratic Party deputy Piero Fassino in an interview: «Italy’s international position cannot change as governments change, and this requires all parties to remain on the tracks of Europeanism and Atlanticism by demonstrating transparency in opposing foreign influences. (…) One of the dimensions evoked by this conflict is certainly the opposition between democracies and autocracies, a situation not seen for decades, which we thought had been consigned to the history books. We must reaffirm the primacy of democracy, its liberal values and the rights it guarantees, and fight for them to be recognised. And in Ukraine all this is at stake».

This is the leitmotif of the Democratic Party confirmed by Lia Quartapelle, who is in charge of Foreign Affairs: «Today the central point is the war in Ukraine and the real crux is the conflict between democratic and authoritarian systems. The yellow-green government (Movimento 5 Stelle and Lega) has tried to be friends with Russia and China against national interests. Our political system suffers from the risk of foreign funding».

Secretary of the Partito Democratico, Enrico Letta, has shown an example of his intransigent Atlanticism, going so far as to call on Parliament to tighten sanctions so that they can «bring Russia to its knees». 

This intransigent stance, however, is not surprising. In fact, the Partito Democratico is historically the most Atlanticist and pro-Europeanist political formation in Italy at all costs, even if certain policies affect the interests of Italians, who are always been placed second by Washington and Brussels.

The centre-left coalition also includes the ‘Impegno Civico’ formation, launched by Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who did not hesitate to leave the party he helped found, the 5 Star Movement, in order to offer support to the Draghi government.

The unknown Movimento 5 Stelle

While maintaining a more nuanced profile, The Movimento 5 Stelle, led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, has repeatedly stated that it is in line with the other main parties. In an interview with the Dire agency, Conte said: «We do not have to clarify every day what we never question, and this applies to the Atlantic alliance and Europeanism. I cannot accept lessons after serving as Prime Minister twice under difficult conditions. I have always kept the bar high when it comes to Italy’s international position”».

The Movimento 5 Stelle therefore, having squandered consensus achieved in the last elections and weakened by separations and internal feuds, seems incapable to repeat its electoral success as it has become the faded copy of the other liberal/liberal parties.

The anti-establishment forces

Perhaps the novelty of this electoral round is represented by the emergence of the so-called anti-establishment forces, born out of the rejection of the pandemic policies implemented by Italian governments, in particular the compulsory vaccination (over 50s) and the ‘green pass’ wanted by the Draghi government, as well as the rejection of the policies dragging Italy into a war with Russia and towards the economic abyss.

On this list, there are particularly two formations that focus on the full recovery of Italy’s sovereignty through exiting from European Union, Euro and NATO. These are Italexit and Italia Sovrana e Popolare.

Italexit proposes an «immediate exit» from NATO and the European Union and the consequent return to the lira. It is against sending arms to Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and argues that the war can only be stopped «through the creation of real diplomatic tables of confrontation». It wants Italy to become the «Switzerland of the Mediterranean», i.e. a totally neutral state.

Italia Sovrana e Popolare, an alliance includes a number of political formations such as the Partito Comunista, Ancora Italia, Riconquistare l’Italia and others introduces itself as «the only alternative to liberal, warmongering, sanitary totalitarianism».

The programme gives priority to Italy’s exit from NATO, EU, Euro and the WHO. It also includes points such as the immediate cessation of «sending arms to the Ukrainian regime» and hence lifting «sanctions on Russia», and subsequently rebuilding diplomatic relations with Moscow that were severely damaged by Mario Draghi’s government.

Italia Sovrana e Popolare marks a fundamental and unavoidable point to restore Italy’s sovereignty and stop the decline. It, therefore, proposes to «file away the season of Atlanticist unipolarity to achieve a multipolar world based on solidarity and the sovereignty of countries united in international brotherhood, that is, the opposite of globalism».

The president of Italia Sovrana e Popolare, Francesco Toscano, linked what is happening because of the self-destructive sanctions against Russia to the long-standing Italian de-industrialisation: «Sanctions have not destroyed Russia, but completed the of de-industrialisation process that Draghi had started in the 1990s, when he, as director general of the treasury, set up the massive sell-off of Italian public assets, that ended up in the hands of supranational potentates».

Marco Rizzo, secretary of the Italia Sovrana e Popolare, former deputy and leading exponent of the alliance, also insists on the need to eliminate the sanctions against Russia that «are destroying our country’s economy. Then of course, we must work for peace with diplomacy».

The Italia Sovrana e Popolare programme proposes, among other things, Italy’s exit from NATO, the euro, European Union and the World Health Organisation, a «unabated» fight against the mafia and criminal organisations, the «defence of the environment» and opposition to «forced migration». «Italia Sovrana e Popolare has the goal we want to achieve in its name». 

Government with limited sovereignty

The next Italian government will be like those predecessors with limited sovereignty. As this analysis in the business daily Milano Finanza makes clear: «The countdown to the general election in Italy has begun, with voting taking place on Sunday 25 September. The result of the election is not cause for concern, at least in the short term, according to economists. In fact, the reaction could be mitigated by the fact that the victory of the right-wing alliance (Fratelli d’Italia, Lega and Forza Italia) is the expected result and is now taken for granted by the stock markets. Moreover, the actual sovereignty and authority of any government is rather limited by the ECB and the supervisory role of the European Commission and the Btp-Bund spread».

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