EconomyWhat to expect from the next prime minister in...

What to expect from the next prime minister in Italy?

(Expansión) – Despite his wide popularity, Mario Draghi is about to say goodbye to Palazzo Chigi , the official residence of the prime minister in Italy, after 17 months at the head of a “Unity Government” that provided stability to the third largest economy in Italy. the European Union in a convulsive moment: seven prime ministers and eight governments in the last decade.

His resignation was somewhat surprising considering the wide popularity with which he said goodbye (55%), although expected after some disagreements with the Lega, Forza Italia and Cinco Estrellas parties.

Super Mario , as the former president of the European Central Bank is also known, raised the admiration of the political and economic elite for his technocratic affinity (being the recipient country with the most recovery funds from the European Union, with 200,000 million euros) , an extensive vaccination campaign against COVID-19, the economic reactivation (growth of 6%, above the European Union average), the inclusion of all parties in the cabinet (except for the Brothers of Italy), and a strong support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, in addition to having achieved the long-awaited justice reform, and energy diversification under an agreement with Algeria.

Who would have the stature to replace Draghi on September 25, and inaugurate the 70th government in the last 77 years? The polls, and the previous political experience after each crisis of this type, point to a leadership of the extreme right, with Giorgia Meloni being the most prominent figure. However, with a reduction in the number of parliamentarians (400 deputies and 200 senators) it remains to be seen how strong his party, Brothers of Italy, will obtain at the time of the proportional distribution of seats, and whether it will be enough for him to change the Constitution to your pleasure.

After all, the three parties that began as anti-political protest movements (the same three that dethroned Draghi) have lost credibility after their involvement in (pro-European) coalition governments in the eyes of a critical conservative electorate, which now sees in Meloni to its only Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant referent under an exacerbated nationalism and to the Brothers of Italy as the only opposition.

If she becomes the next Prime Minister (by the way, the first woman to do so in Italy), many analysts believe that the relationship between Rome and Brussels could deteriorate rapidly, especially if a hypothetical authoritarian government prevails (the party has a fascist past). ), since community economic aid from the NextGeneration recovery plans of the European Union is linked and conditioned to maintaining democratic values.

In addition, Giorgia Meloni is seen by many as a leader with warmer attitudes towards Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which would jeopardize the transatlantic consensus in her support for the supply of weapons to kyiv.

How true is the above? My bet is that it will be less predictable and friendly with Brussels, but not to make a 180º turn, since Italy’s economic growth is strongly anchored to the European bloc, in addition to showing consistency with what it has declared so far, unlike Matteo Salvini (favorite three years ago) who changed position up to two times. Of course, with a war and energy crisis adding to fears of a European recession, the narrative can easily change.

Meloni has advocated defending kyiv, but does not forget that there is a fairly large electorate on the right, mainly business, that criticizes NATO and sympathizes with Russia’s position; he plays realpolitk , maintaining his reputation on issues like immigration and LGBT+ rights, while his support for NATO and Ukraine offers him a position as someone less radical; and in all of this, he uses key words such as honor and nation, in frank allusion to the party’s historical past, without getting involved in controversial issues.

At the moment all are assumptions. As Italian politics has shown on many occasions, “names change, but not the government”, so trying to discover Meloni’s governmental behavior yields clues, but not clarity. In addition, the Democratic Party remains in second place. The centre-left did better than last year’s local elections by winning four of Italy’s five largest mayoralties, so ruling them out is not an option. The question would be, who accompanies which party, and for how long.

Editor’s note: Rina Mussali is an international analyst and coordinator of the COMEXI Study Unit regarding the “Russia-Ukraine War”. Follow her on , and on . The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

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