On October 5, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion, titled “Rightist Italy: What Should Russia and the World Expect from the New Government?”
The recent parliamentary elections in Italy have led to the victory of a centre-right coalition. Dissatisfaction had grown among the voters of the country with the actions of the previous government, both in the fight against Covid and amid the current economic situation. Among the right-wing coalition, the largest number of votes was obtained by the Brothers of Italy party, which had previously always been on the sidelines and had only a small number of seats in parliament. Its leader Giorgia Meloni, in fact, turned out to be almost the only major politician in the election campaign who had not previously been in the highest positions of power.
Purely formally, the Brothers of Italy are historically associated with the Italian Social Movement — a structure that, after the Second World War, united former supporters of Benito Mussolini. Although it is now quite clear that the Brothers of Italy have no links with the ideologies of the past, the world media declared that “fascists have returned to power” in Italy. This may explain the extremely harsh statement of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen before the vote that the citizens of Italy must make the right choice, and that otherwise the EU will have the means to respond.
A separate issue under discussion is what Italy’s position would be towards Russia. Giorgia Meloni has already made her support for Ukraine clear. At the same time, the coalition includes Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini, who have a well-established reputation as “friends of Putin” in the EU. However, one should hardly expect that Italy will abandon sanctions against Russia.
Will the right-wing forces satisfy the demands of the Italian voters? Will the new government be able to overcome the economic consequences of the pandemic? Will it be able to put an end to the internal political crisis in Italy? How will relations between Russia and Italy change under Meloni’s government? How real is the potential for Italy, under the new government, to take a more active position in mediating and trying to resolve the Ukrainian conflict? All these questions were discussed by the participants in the Valdai Club discussion.
- Elena Maslova, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences
- Igor Pelicciari, Professor at the University of Urbino (UNIURB)
- Vittorio Torrembini, Honorary Consul of Italy in Lipetsk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Italian Entrepreneurs in Russia GIM UNIMPRESA