Although “The centre is still holding on” in Europe, we are increasingly seeing the appearance on the political scene of instant right-wing or far-right movements, which have ideologies based on the topics of identity, historical nationalist resentment and anti-immigration policies
The recent victory of Giorgia Meloni, leader of the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, like the rise of the extreme right in Sweden, serves to illustrate several trends that have been evident in Western democracies over recent decades.
The basic trend relates to the falling influence of traditional parties and the increasingly common appearance of so-called “instant movements” that achieve success at lightning speed, which nonetheless doesn’t guarantee their longevity in power. This is typical of Italy in particular, where traditional party structures have long since vanished from the political scene (Christian Democrats, Communists etc.) and been replaced by various newer movements (such as the Five Star Movement, Northern League). However, a similar thing is happening in other European countries, from France (Macron and the “quasi-disappearance” of the socialist party and traditional adherents) to Slovenia, which has, so-to-say, ‘specialised’ in the frequent selecting of completely new people to head the government. Giorgia Meloni’s party won only four per cent of the vote in elections just four years ago, only to win the most votes this time around.
Another trend that’s linked to the previous one relates to the rise of populism – largely right-wing or far-right populism, based on topics of identity, historical nationalist resentment and anti-immigration policies – which has become one of the constants of political life in many countries, including the U.S. However, observing the European Union as a whole, the “centre” continues to hold on, as shown by the European Parliament election of 2019, as well as recent elections in France, Germany and elsewhere.
The departure of prime minister Draghi and the disappearance of the so-called Macron-Scholz-Draghi “troika” will make it difficult to reach possible agreement on essential reforms to the Union, and thus also to possibly impact positively on EU enlargement policy
The political changes in Italy will undoubtedly impact the political “ship” of the European Union universally and cause it to list more markedly to the right, though not to the extent that this will have a fundamental impact on current European policies, which are primarily dominated by the issues of the war in Ukraine and its ramifications on the energy market and economies, as well as discussions of the possible reform of the EU, internal disputes over the rule of law (Poland, Hungary) and the like. The character (generally unstable) of the Italian coalition, Italy’s dependence on financial support from the EU, but also the pro-NATO orientation of PM Meloni, are all elements that will contribute to the new Italian government acting relatively more moderately in Brussels.
On the flip side, the departure of Prime Minister Draghi and the disappearance of the so-called Macron-Scholz-Draghi “troika” will make it difficult to reach possible agreement on essential reforms to the Union, and thus also to possibly impact positively on EU enlargement policy. Although Italy traditionally supports EU enlargement and the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the EU, it has long been predominantly burdened by internal political issues. Its influence on EU enlargement policy is therefore extremely limited and indirect, which will probably also be the case with the new Italian government.