Commentary. Meloni’s vague economic promises leave the impression of a mainstream liberal with minor nationalistic tendencies. The first test will be the privatization of ITA.

Melonomics so far is just a continuation of Draghi policy

How indecisive these neo-fascists are in economics. The impression was clear just by scrolling through the Brothers of Italy’s electoral program, with its reassuring title “Ready”: a series of cliches without a shred of precise information or numbers on all the hot topics, from the tax authorities to pensions.

The immediate attack on the citizenship income, the rallies and interviews by Giorgia Meloni and the first post-vote statements by Donzelli, Ciriani and Mollicone confirmed the basic outline. But making predictions on the next budget law is like predicting the lottery. As far as we know so far, the Brothers of Italy could very well continue the same policy as the Draghi government.

Crozza’s caricature — at least politically — is well centered: Giorgia Meloni would prefer to have someone else govern. Tuesday she must have been disappointed to learn that the Brussels budget law presentation has been extended to the end of November, because she is aware of the delicate global moment and that every economic decision must be taken with great caution.

The cover of the budget law is short and therefore no “exaggerated [promises] in this economic context,” such as those made by the League on the €30 billion deficit to pay Berlusconi’s energy bills or €1,000 pensions for everyone.

The only fixed points at the moment are two: the announced restriction of the citizen’s income “for those who can work” (spiced up with the common commitment of all parties to “strengthen active policies”) and “the tax wedge cut” for which Giorgia Meloni will stake out resources in the budget law, adding however a postulate not of her choosing: “for the benefit of workers and businesses.”

Then there is an equally clever keyword scattered far and wide in the program and in the declarations: “incremental.” This adjective is used to smooth out the extreme proposals of her allies, and in fact it is applied to the flat tax for VAT numbers and for the tax relief for companies. While Salvini proposed the “flat tax” for everyone, Meloni distinguishes and limits it to VAT numbers up to €100,000 in turnover and on the increase in income compared to previous years. By the same token, she envisages a “super deduction of labor costs for companies that increase employment compared to previous years.”

The apogee of cliches comes to pensions. Salvini proposes an unreachable — and laughable for precarious workers — “41 Quota,” the number of years of worker contributions to retire, regardless of their age. Fratelli d’Italia responds with “the right to a peaceful old age.” A highly uncertain objective that is translated into equally demanding concepts: “easier access to retirement, while at the same time promoting generational change.” The expression “Fornero reform” is not even present in the entire pension program, leaving room for doubt that Giorgia Meloni wants to keep it as is, which will happen starting January 1 if no action is decided.

Having analyzed their programs and declarations, it is impossible to classify Brothers of Italy in the main currents of economic theory. The social right was historically statist; Meloni and La Russa were part of highly liberal governments such as those of the Berlusconi duo.

The impression is that Meloni will lean toward a controlled liberalism with a splash, however, of interventionist nationalism on the minor issues.

We could find out more in a few days. The first test for Meloni will in fact be the hot potato of ITA. With a surprise attack, the Draghi-Franco duo chose to privatize it to the American fund Certares backed by Delta and Air France. In his strenuous opposition to the management of the current president of ITA, Alfredo Altavilla, the brave Fabio Rampelli has always said he was aiming for the revival and nationalization of the former Alitalia.

Will Giorgia Meloni block the sale or will she pass it off as Draghi’s last choice? If this is the case, the glimpse of continuity with “the unelected banker” will be confirmed.

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