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Saturday November 26, 2022

Meloni’s win

October 03, 2022

Italian voters stuck with right-wing parties in the general elections held on September 25. As expected, the right-wing coalition has maintained its majority in the Italian parliament and is likely to form the government. The right-wing parties got 7 per cent more votes than in 2018, maintaining their lead over left-wing parties.

The left in Italy has once again failed to capitalize on the cost-of-living crisis and the struggling economy. Its poor performance is concerning. The country’s Left has lost ground in the last 15 years and failed to reclaim its space so far. The country’s right-wing parties have taken full advantage of this weakness and push through its reactionary political, economic and social agenda.

The far-right ‘Brothers of Italy’ party, led by Giorgia Meloni, has emerged as the largest party with 26 per cent of votes. Known as an extreme right-wing nationalist, Giorgia Meloni is likely to become the first female prime minister of Italy. In 2018, Meloni’s party got just 4.3 per cent of the total votes and its 32 MPs joined the assemblies. But it has now emerged as the leading party with 119 MPs and 66 senators. Meloni’s party has gained 87 seats as compared to its performance in the 2018 elections.

The right-wing coalition of Brothers of Italy, The League and Forza Italia has won 43.82 per cent of the votes and nearly 237 MPs in the house of 400, and 115 senators in the House of 206 members. The centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party has bagged 26.2 per cent votes and 85 MPs. The Democratic Party (PD) has received 19.11 per cent votes. The right-wing populist M5S (Five Stars movement) has bagged 15.33 per cent, and this result is far worse than the one in 2018.

Another centre-right party, The League, led by Salvini, has suffered a heavy defeat and received just 8.8 per cent of the total votes and 66 MPs. The League has emerged as the ‘biggest loser’ of the 2022 elections among the right-wing parties, along with former right-wing prime minister and media tycoon Berlusconi’s Forza Italia; both parties have lost 59 seats each.

Forza Italia has won 8.1 per cent votes and 45 seats. The two right-wing parties have lost 118 seats combined, but even then the Left failed to make gains in the elections. As a result, another right-wing party Brothers of Italy have made gains and filled the political vacuum.

The Azione-Italia Viva [a splinter group of former PD MPs, including Renzi] has won 7.78 per cent votes; the Italian Left/Greens has won 3.64 per cent, and a number of smaller forces have failed to break through the 3 per cent votes threshold needed to be elected to parliament. This includes the Popular Union led by the Refounded Communist Party (RC), the only real left coalition that has just got a miserable 1.43 per cent votes and failed to make it to the Italian parliament.

The turnout was significantly low at 63.8 per cent in the September 25 election. The turnout was 73 per cent in 2018; this indicates a 10 per cent drop in four years and shows that a big gap has developed between the population and the existing parties. The Italians hardly find any difference in the policies of the major political parties. The large section of the population has lost trust in the political system and leadership over the years. In Italy, the turnout remained high between 1945 and 1980; it used to be nearly 93 per cent during that period. But, since the 1980s, it has started to drop and now fallen to 63.8 per cent.

Nearly 36 per cent of registered voters did not vote in this general election. Many left-wing voters opted to stay away from the polling stations due to lack of the real left-wing alternative.

Over the last 30 years, there has been a steady decline in voter participation. Every government in the last three decades has fallen short of the expectations of many voters.

The political parties make promises to win the elections but find it hard to fulfil those promises due to pressures from coalition governments and the ruling elite. The inability of the political leadership of both centre-right and centre-left to solve the economic crisis and improve the lives of the working class has disappointed many voters.

The Italian electorate has once again produced a hung parliament. No political party has a majority to form a stable government, which means another unstable right-wing coalition government. It will be interesting to see how long this government will last.

In the last 30 years, every Italian government lasted not more than 18 months in power, on average. Different political parties stitch together a coalition government, but each time they fail to last long and fall apart due to internal infighting and differences on key issues and policies.

Italian voters elected the most right-wing government since the Second World War. But it would be a mistake to call the Meloni government fascist. It is true that there are some elements within Meloni’s Brothers of Italy who sympathize with Mussolini and glorify Italy’s fascist past. Georgia Meloni herself in the past praised Mussolini. But it will be wrong to declare her right-wing government a fascist one.

There is no doubt that Georgia Meloni is a reactionary right-wing bigot like other world leaders including Donald Trump, Narendra Modi and Jair Bolsonaro. She has taken a reactionary stance on many issues. Her government will be a neoliberal setup that will give concessions to the capitalist class and introduce policies that have a negative impact on the living conditions of the already struggling working people.

The parties which formed the grand coalition under the leadership of former president of European central bank Draghi have suffered heavy losses. The only party that remained outside the government since 2018 was Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, which has now made big gains. The voters have rejected the Draghi-led grand coalition. The people are not happy with the way the previous government addressed the cost-of-living crisis. The life of ordinary Italians has been worsening as each year passes.

There is no viable or credible force on the Left that could have offered an alternative to the Italians. Italy’s Left hasn’t recovered from the splits it observed in the 1990s.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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