There is one aspect of the Italian crisis that does not seem to stir anything in us. However, it has to do with the heart of the problem: what Europe must become in the post-pandemic era.
The head of the Socialists and Democrats group in Brussels, Iraxte Garcia, has publicly expressed her concerns about the doors left open for Matteo Salvini and his possible entry into the area of the government.
Obviously, the European credibility of the future Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, is not in question. But it must be said, for the sake of intellectual honesty, that the structure that the former president of the ECB is about to set up will make a difference.
Our European friends are struggling to understand the dynamics of the Italian debate. The reasons that the President has acted on are clear and plausible. However, at the EU level, things are being seen differently.
COVID is all over the world, and all over the world, people are still voting—from Biden’s victory to that of the left in Ecuador. The national Recovery Plans are being written in all the countries of the Union, without this leading to national unity mechanisms being set up.
Throughout Europe and most of the world, the causes of the progressive forces have nothing in common with the nationalist, racist, homophobic, chauvinist ones, which can include denying the climate emergency and the COVID emergency. If anything, they are enemies, because they are expressions of different, and sometimes opposite, values and worldviews.
It is hard to imagine the extreme right dealing with the ecological transition and the relaunch of public policies, starting with healthcare, after the disaster in Lombardy.
Moreover, in Brussels there is a real conventio ad excludendum, a cordon sanitaire that prevents anti-European forces from taking on meaningful institutional roles.
The reasons are obvious, starting with the fact that the European democratic space must be defended. In 2019, they attempted an assault to blow up the Union and failed. Among the attackers, Salvini was on the front line.
It might be that Salvini’s pro-European conversion was as sudden and lasting as that of Paul of Tarsus, fallen from his horse. It might be. But it might also be the opposite.
And in Europe, the case of Fidesz, Orban’s party, sets an example. A very bad example. A Eurosceptic anti-immigration party within the European People’s Party group, from which it was suspended in March 2019 until further notice and from which it risks expulsion. A Hungarian government that violates the rule of law and the freedom of the press and constantly fuels racist propaganda.
Italy is a founding country of the Union, an important country. Therefore, the concerns are legitimate because the risk of a Trojan horse still exists.
This is the most delicate aspect: under no circumstances should Italian progressive forces favor Salvini being allowed in. I sincerely believe that the prospective Prime Minister should reflect deeply on this particular passage.
The tactical dimension of Salvini’s actions—probably pushed by the productive forces of the North—appears evident. No pro-European conversion, then, just a desire to get his hands on the Recovery Plan cash. We need to be aware of this.
I think it is right to consider the impact of a possible national unity government on the balances in Europe, starting from the next German elections.
We cannot afford another Orban. Credibility in politics is almost everything.
Let’s try to take ourselves seriously. I have nothing against Draghi, but Salvini in government would be a terrible first step. It would be a victory for an extreme version of “anything goes,” the confirmation that the political debate is based on particular interests alone. We just have to realize that this is truly unacceptable.
With our feet on the ground, the courage to fight this battle to the end will come by itself.