X Close

Is Giorgia Meloni an EU puppet? There's nothing subversive about Italy's leading 'fascist'

(Riccardo Fabi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Riccardo Fabi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


and
August 22, 2022   6 mins
and
August 22, 2022   6 mins

Italy’s first-ever summer election does not take place for another month, but the outcome already appears certain: the country’s centre-Right coalition — comprising Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia — is leading the polls by a wide margin. Victory seems guaranteed.

Brothers of Italy, in particular, continues its surge ahead of all the other parties, establishing Meloni as the de facto leader of the centre-Right coalition and as a likely candidate to become the first female prime minister in Italian history. Her party is now polling at around 25%, with Salvini’s Lega at 15% and Forza Italia at 7% — close to potentially giving the coalition more than 60% of the seats due to the current electoral system.

On the opposite front, the centrist Democratic Party (PD), the party of the establishment, has severed all ties with Giuseppe Conte’s Five Star Movement, which they hold responsible for the fall of the Draghi government — an unforgivable sin in the eyes of the Italian elites. However, by foregoing an electoral alliance with Conte’s party, which until a few months ago seemed all but certain, the PD has effectively given up its only chance of coming anywhere close to a majority. On its own, the PD is currently polling at 23%, making it the second party in the country. But with its centre-Left coalition made up of small parties, they are unlikely to gain more than 30% of the votes.

For its part, the Five Star Movement has experienced the most spectacular fall from grace of any party in modern European history: at the last elections, in 2018, on the back of a strongly anti-establishment rhetoric, it gained an astonishing 32.7% of the votes, 11 million in total, making it by far the most-voted party in parliament. Today it is polling at around 10%.

This is the result of what many view as a betrayal of the party’s ideals. Failing to achieve much during its short-lived “populist” government alliance with the Lega, it subsequently underwent nothing less than a full-blown transformation, first allying itself with the pro-establishment PD and then offering its unwavering support for the technocratic government of Mario Draghi, the embodiment itself of post-democratic technocratic management. Needless to say, voters weren’t impressed — hence the party’s free-fall in the polls.

Indeed, for the many millions of Italians who placed their hopes in Five Star, the lesson is a bleak one: voting is pointless. Unsurprisingly, most polls forecast the turnout at the upcoming elections to be the lowest ever — with potentially more than 40% of voters not bothering to head to the polls.

However, it would be a mistake to blame this on the Five Star’s betrayal — or on Matteo Salvini’s equally pathetic downfall from populist rabble-rouser to establishment apparatchik for that matter. These are epiphenomena of a much deeper, structural malaise of Italian post-democracy: the fact that governments, regardless of who gets elected, have little choice but to go along with what Brussels and Frankfurt say.

This became apparent during the Five Star Movement-Lega government. First, President Mattarella vetoed the economic minister proposed by two parties due to his euro-critical stance, forcing them to opt for a more status quo-friendly choice; then the executive found itself on a collision course with Brussels over a minuscule budget deficit increase, which eventually compelled the government to back down. Or one could go back to the even more dramatic events that led to Berlusconi’s resignation in 2011, when the European Central Bank, led by Draghi, engineered a sovereign debt crisis in order to force Silvio Berlusconi to leave office in favour of technocrat Mario Monti.

To put it starkly, Italy is no longer a democracy — it’s an appendage to the EU empire. There’s really no other way of describing a system where democratically unaccountable institutions, such as the European Commission and ECB, are able to arbitrarily decide the policies of elected governments or even forcibly remove them from office. So citizens can hardly be blamed for thinking that voting is, ultimately, pointless.

Parties are perfectly aware of this, but are unwilling to admit it to voters. And no one is more aware of it than Giorgia Meloni. She knows very well that Italy is not a sovereign nation, and that winning an election is only part of the effort. Having the support of the European (and American) establishment is just as important, if she wants to remain in power.

This is why she has gone to great lengths in recent months to dispel concerns about the party’s neo-fascist roots, and to express her wholehearted support for the European Union, the Euro-Atlantic partnership and Nato, including voting for sending weapons to Ukraine. Indeed, the first two points of the centre-right coalition’s agenda are the “full adherence to the European integration process” and “respect for Italy’s international alliances”.

By the same token, for all her talk of “being on the side of workers”, Meloni has made sure to steer clear of any socio-economic proposals that might come up against the EU’s economic governance, knowing full well that it would result in swift and merciless retaliation by the European authorities. Indeed, her economic agenda is a classic neoliberal-conservative agenda programme — based on lower taxes (but fiscal rectitude), workfare schemes (making income support conditional on accepting whatever job recipients are offered), and greater labour flexibility. The only proposal that defies the economic orthodoxy is the call for slightly higher pensions.

Overall, Meloni prefers to talk of cultural-identitarian issues rather than economic ones. Hence her agenda’s focus on defending and promoting “Europe’s classical and Judeo-Christian historical and cultural roots and identity”, tighter immigration rules and greater crime-prevention measures. This is partly a result of Meloni’s background, of course. But it’s just as much a consequence of the way in which the EU’s economic pensée unique, by ruling out all alternatives to managing society and the economy, inevitably ends up pushing political challenges to the status quo, and to the EU itself, on to a strictly cultural and identitarian terrain.

This explains why, across Europe, opposition to the EU isn’t couched so much in terms of the bloc’s economic policies but of its encroachment upon the “diversity” of the European peoples. This puts Meloni’s Brothers of Italy up there with all major European Right-wing parties — Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz, Poland’s governing Law and Justice or Austria’s Freedom Party — none of which openly challenge the EU’s economic architecture, but mostly focus their criticism on the bloc’s threat to European cultural and religious traditions. This is not to say that these issues are not important, but this trend is revealing of the way the EU has succeeded in shifting any opposition to itself from the socioeconomic terrain to the identitarian terrain, thus fuelling the very culture wars that are tearing our societies apart.

What we might expect from a future centre-Right government was recently spelled out by Lucio Baccaro: “They will pass a few (heinous) laws about migrants, LGBTs, etc., they will get a bit of pork for their constituencies, but otherwise the country will continue being governed from outside.” Meanwhile, amid a dramatically worsening social and economic crisis, the concrete material needs of most Italians will go unanswered. Meloni — just like all the other parties — has no clue about how to solve the energy crisis, for example, and indeed has vowed to continue sanctions against Russia and military support for Ukraine, which of course are at the root of the current crisis.

So why does Meloni enjoy such widespread and growing support? The answer is pretty straightforward: despite all the above, Brothers of Italy is the only party that has opposed the pro-EU and technocratic governments of the past ten years. And, therefore, in the eyes of a good number of Italians, Meloni still represents a challenge to the political establishment, which most Italians continue to rage against. For this very reason, Meloni channels the revulsion a lot of voters have for the PD, the incarnation of the progressive, pro-establishment, pro-EU Left.

This is also why the calls by the PD’s leader, Enrico Letta, to “unite against the fascist threat”, usually rather effective on Italy’s traditionally moderate electorate, are largely falling on deaf ears this time round. Not because Italians are developing a taste for fascism — there’s nothing “fascist” about Meloni by any reasonable understanding of the term — but because the anti-fascist trope rings increasingly hollow coming from a party that more than any other has supported the demolition of Italy’s democracy and welfare state at the hands of the European Union.

Even a growing number of people on the Left are coming round to this. A telling example was a rather astonishing article that appeared in the liberal-progressive magazine Left, which came to the following conclusion: “We need to face the reality that the Democratic Party is a deeply anti-popular, reactionary party, and is the main culprit of the Italian decline over the course of the past 15 years. Voting for it is not the least-worst choice, but the worst one.”

And yet, at the same time, those who vote for Meloni in the hope of changing things are likely to be disappointed. Given that the smaller anti-establishment parties — Gianluigi Paragone’s Italexit, the socialist anti-EU coalition Sovereign and Popular Italy, and the Left-wing Popular Union coalition — all risk remaining below the 3% threshold, the real threat to what’s left of Italian democracy doesn’t come from Meloni. Rather, it comes from the fact that, in all likelihood, 100% of the seats in the next Parliament will belong to the EU — and the stagnant economic system that caused this mess in the first place.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

battleforeurope

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

68 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nick Bernard
NB
Nick Bernard
1 year ago

Many thanks for a great and informative article. Great Italy, another sad state where political governance and elections are just a masquerade. The technocratic anti-democratic fungus has spread across so much of the ‘free’ world, stifling and burdening citizens for their own good.

Chauncey Gardiner
CG
Chauncey Gardiner
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick Bernard

“Many thanks” is just how I was to open my own comment!
I am no expert on Italian politics, but one does wonder, as this essay suggests, that internal politics in most EU-member countries amounts to noise. The only real issue is exit from the EU … which is hard to engineer, when the EU can judiciously distribute funds here and there.
Were exit merely a matter of tearing off a band-aid–that would be one thing. But, having to give up a limb or two to secure exit makes the politics of it much more fraught.

Amanda Lothian
AL
Amanda Lothian
1 year ago

that was the point of the euro really wasn’t it. I’d still do it though.

Peter Dawson
PD
Peter Dawson
1 year ago

Chauncey me old mucker good to see you on here – cousin Jayne and I were just earlier today talking about young Oliver and his plans.

Roy Mullins
RM
Roy Mullins
1 year ago

In spite of inflation, cost of living, NHS problems etc, etc, we need to thank our lucky stars that we ( UK ) got out of the EU when we did

Hugh Marcus
HM
Hugh Marcus
1 year ago
Reply to  Roy Mullins

Yes, because that’s going really well (NOT)

Chauncey Gardiner
CG
Chauncey Gardiner
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

One does have to ask: “Compared to what?”

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Compared to pre Brexit UK on such items as starving and freezing to death and swimming in sewage: that kind of thing.

Matt M
MM
Matt M
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

LOL if we had stayed in the EU like Ireland we would have had no houses available to rent.

Roger Ledodger
RL
Roger Ledodger
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

LOL – Brexit Britain is exporting more to the EU since Brexit than before. The only bad news is it is gas/oil and electricity. It seems the EU has a problem with all three of those at present.
The City is also raking in more profits from the EU than France’s banks.
https://www.cityam.com/boost-for-global-britain-as-uk-exports-to-eu-defy-brexit-challenges-and-hit-highest-level-ever/
https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/eu-banks-demand-access-city-170454643.html
https://www.cityam.com/city-blows-away-gloomy-brexit-forecasts-as-profits-soar-at-fastest-rate-since-2015/
https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/german-energy-market-would-collapse-without-gas-levy-habeck-2022-08-15/

Below is the best link however
https://www.bloombergquint.com/gadfly/if-italy-fails-then-europe-fails-too
I now get
“It is ‘no longer available in your region”
I suppose that’s why Brexit Britain’s Europhiles don’t know just how dire the situation is in the EU? 😉

Phil Mac
PM
Phil Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

Yeah, if only we’d stayed in we wouldn’t have inflation and wouldn’t be on the hook for the financial carnage facing the Euro.
Germany and the US shouldn’t have left the EU either, just look at their problems!

Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Roy Mullins

You say ‘in spite of’. The rest of Europe also has rampant inflation, high cost of living, and in some areas a far more critical energy problem.
The biggest difference between the UK and the EU is the ONS get their numbers out quicker, so that gives a little window where journalists and other prophets of doom can shout about UK inflation being the worst in Europe.

Roy Mullins
RM
Roy Mullins
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Absolutely agree – we have got the wherewithal to sort it out as well. We have serious problems but not as intractable as in the EU.

Last edited 1 year ago by Roy Mullins
mike otter
MO
mike otter
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Anyone running a business or studied stats beyone A level knows the ONS is fake. They have you fill out forms on stats you cannot possibly get in real time, count employees twice or even 3 times if they are temps or part time and generally behave like apparatchiks from the USSR. They keep a few thousand admin bods in Cardiff off the dole but at such ridiculous cost the game is not worth the candle.

Matt M
MM
Matt M
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

For reference:
Inflation is higher in the Netherlands and Spain.
The cost of living (inflation minus wage growth) is higher in Germany, France and Italy.
Cost of living is what really counts. If you wages are rising along with the cost of goods and services, at least you have a chance of keeping up.
Suspiciously both Germany and France stopped publishing wage growth figures recently. Can you imagine if the UK stopped publishing figures to avoid bad press?

Ann
Ann
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

I own a 1 bed flat in London, and my electricity bill is £177 a month. My sister and husband, who own a 2 bed flat near Florence, pay €35 euros a month. These are real numbers. Care to explain?

Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Ann

Oddly enough in another post you accused me of ignorance of Italian economics, and yet you seem completely clueless as to why an Italian electricity bill (at least in a small flat) can be much lower than in the UK.
Start by looking at the fuse box, your sisters electricity supply is probably limited to 3KW. This is peanuts by UK standards.
Up until the 60s electricity was very limited in Italy, so much so that they actually used to provide most of it from hydro-electricity. This was quite important with Italy not having much in the way of fossil fuels.
So Italy has grown up with a culture of low electricity usage. It is hardly ever used for heating, and people in Florence will hang their clothes out to dry rather than use a dryer. Appliances tend to be lowwer power. A typical kettle is 1.7KW. An oven 2.2KW. Instead of comparing the cost of electricity, try looking at the KWh consumed.
Then I’ll throw in another factor. In order to encourage low consumption, the state electricity company used to stagger prices based on consumption. Although this is being eliminated, it is still present, so the first part of you consumption is paid for below market rate. This is subsidised by higher tariffs on high consumption.
In addition the market is now private. Many people have contracts with prices fixed for a year (more often than not as an introductory offer). Is your sisters contract one of those?

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Roy Mullins

If you think the UK Tory party and ALL of its MPs are anything other that puppets you are, sadly naïve. Indeed most politicians in the Western world are no different!
To see who the puppet masters are is very simple: in the words of Cicero: “Qui Bono?” or for whose good: or who gains? If the millionare classes including banksters and other shysters are raki g it in then there are your puppet masters, right there as the Yanks say!
Yes of course some payments must be made to the angry masses (mainly lip service of course) in order to keep the idiots from voting in their own interests. To keep facilitating enrichment of the already super rich you have to throw a few crumbs of bread (+circuses*) to the plebs. *the current race for no.10, parties, arms to Ukraine etc etc.
I’m trying to be positive here: to hear the negative theory tune in to Neil Oliver’s take on this enslavement, starvation and freezing of the masses!

Roy Mullins
RM
Roy Mullins
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I don’t disagree with you but at least we can throw out governments we don’t like which puts a ( tiny) bit more pressure on them than it does on the EU leadership. Our government won’t be able to blame the EU – at least my vote counts a bit in the UK

Last edited 1 year ago by Roy Mullins
David Simpson
DS
David Simpson
1 year ago
Reply to  Roy Mullins

Which is really the point Farsi is making. If we’re in the shit, it’s our fault, and we have to fix it. When asked, the Greeks, Irish and apparently the Italians, would prefer mummy to sort it out. They need to grow up, or at least talk to mr orban

Roy Mullins
RM
Roy Mullins
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Absolutely

harry storm
HS
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Yeah real positive. If that were a given as you believe, brexit would never have gone through.

Malcolm Webb
MW
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

Good article – and a fair warning regarding the clear Imperialist tendencies of the EU. However the writer is very much mistaken by ascribing the current energy crisis to sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine . The problems go much deeper that – and were created by the same supposed elites who run the EU – and much of the U.K. Civil Service and Academia.

Roger Ledodger
RL
Roger Ledodger
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Putin is a convenient scapegoat for the Energy crisis, they’ll even try and blame him for the QE/Low Interest rate meets Covid lockdown inflation, as that starts to hurt more. Net Zero and the Green agenda needs scrapping now.

harry storm
HS
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

The ukraine war started in February 2022. Was there even a hint of an “energy crisis” before that?

Albireo Double
AD
Albireo Double
1 year ago

“…This is the result of what many view as a betrayal of the party’s ideals. it first allied itself with the pro-establishment PD and then with the technocratic government of Mario Draghi, the embodiment of post-democratic technocratic management. Needless to say, voters weren’t impressed — hence the party’s free-fall in the polls. …”

I wonder if anyone from the UK Conservative party is reading this. If so, I wonder if they will see the lesson that is heading their way.

They won an 80 seat majority by expressing a set of exciting values that the voters are desperate for. Then they promptly, and completely betrayed those voters in every single thing thing they said and did in office. The voters’ revenge will be a “dish best served cold”, just two years from now.

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

The five-star movement was more like the reform party. People supported it because they claimed to be something new and clean.
Of course all politicians are new and clean until they get into office. Then they become like any other politician, but with less experience.
The five-star movement was made worse by a limit of max 8 years service and a wages cap that limited their salary to that of a typical office worker (the rest of the MPs salary being donated to the party). This means that anybody with a decent career would be mad to give it all up for the ‘glory’ of being an MP. In fact most of their candidates were unemployed or in casual work. Once they were elected it became clear why…

David Simpson
DS
David Simpson
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

What, by voting for Starmer et al? Sadly, probably by not voting at all, as the French and now apparently the Italians are choosing to do. This cannot end well.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

I always think that referring to Starmer, being a KC as a ” silk” is a manifest insult to hard working silk worms.. he is a Polydrayloncorfam….

Sevo Slade
SS
Sevo Slade
1 year ago

Outside observers of Italian politics tend to underestimate the degree to which the immigration issue fuels popular sentiment. Italy is doubly on the front line of the migrant crisis: to the south, NGO’s and the Italian Coast Guard ferry thousands of mostly Muslim, mostly male migrants to Italian shores; to the north, France cynically does everything it can to prevent those migrants from leaving Italy and entering its territory. Ever since the Lega’s Salvini was booted out of his position of Interior Minister because of his efforts to stem the tide, successive Italian governments have operated pretty much of an open borders policy. As the only major party that has never participated in recent Italian government coalitions, the Brothers of Italy naturally attract the votes and support for those who have given up on hoping that other parties will actually ever deal with the issue.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Sevo Slade

Brits seem not to understand that Italians always have disliked immigrants ” of colour”: debating the rights and wrongs is irrelevant… it is just fact.

mike otter
MO
mike otter
1 year ago

It matters little if a centre-right coalition wins next month, as the deep state which was almost killed off by extremists in the 70s + 80s is alive and well and will try to do what their US and UK equivalents did to Trump and Johnson. Back in the good old days Pirelli, Fiat and Agip ran the economy, the Pope did morality/immorality. The Mafia, Brigate Rosse and similar outfits looked after crime and punishment. The politicians were shut in the Montecitorio and really quite powerless. Sadly they escaped and have proved at least as bad as the vernacular powers they replaced. They did so using the same state capture methods we have seen in all other “social democratic” nations. Civil service including police, educators, judiciary all selected or brainwashed as collectivists and used to coerce formerly free citizens and businesses into bowing to their simplistic and destructive take on Marxism.

willy Daglish
WD
willy Daglish
1 year ago

Effectively ALL EU politicians are owned by Brussels.

Michael James
MJ
Michael James
1 year ago
Reply to  willy Daglish

That’s their choice. It allows them to deflect to Brussels the blame for their own incompetence. That’s why the EU always wins.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael James
Roger Ledodger
RL
Roger Ledodger
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael James

The problem is the EU isn’t going to win when it turns violent, and by ensuring there is no other way of winning, it is quite likely it will turn violent.

Amanda Lothian
AL
Amanda Lothian
1 year ago
Reply to  willy Daglish

certainly all those trapped in the euro zone, or profiting from it

Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago

Whilst Meloni has declared herself to be an ‘Atlantist’ (commited to NATO and western alliances), I would dispute that she is so committed to the EU.
The pledge “full adherence to the European integration process” comes from the center-right coalitions manifest, not Meloni’s own party. I suspect it’s origins have a lot to do with having Berlusconi on-side.
Frattelli d’Italia have a long history of opposition to the Union. The lega, which is the second largest party in the coalition, stated in their last election manifest that they thought the EU should be unwound to the pre-Maastricht EEC – as do an awful lot of Europeans who are doubly angry about never being given the chance to vote on unification.
If the center-right coalition win with Forza Italia as the minor party (which is the most likely outcome), don’t expect it to be an EU friendly government.
Yes, they will want to keep the PNRR, the financial package with which the EU have ‘purchased’ Italy. But expect them also to be pressing for the rolling back of the ‘Union’ to the ‘Community’ that preceded it. And I would expect such a move to generate a lot of synergy in Europe in general, including with UK leavers.

Richard Barrett
RB
Richard Barrett
1 year ago

Excellent piece. Fazi is on the button as usual.

Michael James
MJ
Michael James
1 year ago

Is there any reason to suppose that Italy could fix its economic malaise if it left the European Union? A devalued restored national currency would no doubt be welcome but could it control its public spending?

Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael James

Up until the 1980s it did manage quite well. Had it managed it’s own currency rather than join the Euro then it could, arguably, now be in the same condition of many eastern European countries whose manufacturing industries are booming.
But that boat sailed long ago. If Italy left the Euro today it would be bankrupt. And the industry in the north has long been decimated.
In fact this is at the root of Italy’s economic woes. In line with EU policy, industry has been ‘migrated’ to France and Germany. It was supposed to be ‘replaced’ by tourism and ‘Made in Italy’ (lux. fashion etc).
That has happened to a limited extent – tourists now flock to beaches in areas that were once a mafia run far west – but as one observer put it, there are limits to how many tourists you can fit in the foro.
Two-thirds of Italy’s large population actually live in and around the Po valley, and it has very limited tourist potential. It used to be wall-to-wall with industry – automotive, white-goods, machine-tools. electronics, you name it, they made it. That has now mostly vaporised, and so have the skills that would be essential to a re-birth. let alone a ‘catch-up’.
A lot of Italian money is actually being ‘wasted’ trying support that large section of the population who no longer make any economic contribution.
As the author notes, Italy is now an EU principality. It’s government is like Sturgeon on acid – making bold propositions about things over which they have no control.
Whilst there can be no drastic change to that, at least in the short term, a non-EU friendly government could gain traction in Europe as a whole. Most Europeans don’t actually want the union, and were a bit miffed about not being asked.
So whilst Italy could no longer leave the EU, it could succeed in starting a movement that could roll-back the ‘union’ to the ‘community’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Roger Irwin
Roger Ledodger
RL
Roger Ledodger
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Then there is the issue of Target 2 and what it actually is. According to the ECB it is a paper exercise, but according to some German economists it is
“Interest free, collateral free loans.”
IF the German’s are right. Then IF Italy does end up out of the Euro or bankrupt, then who is going to pay back the Germans and in what currency?
The prospect of a default was suggested in the lecture given by a German economist IIRC, and he said a default would mean the bankruptcy of the Bundesbank.
When I begin to wonder IF there is a God, I always then wonder; Is he an Englishman (Fid Def) ? Brexit couldn’t have been better timed.

Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Ledodger

I think Target2 is a lot more complicated than that.
Superficially it’s a debt – it’s no different from a supplier being lenient over an unpaid invoice so the customer has breathing space to be able to repay. This is often done because bankrupting the customer will usually not allow the debt to be fully recovered, if at all.
But in this case there is a flipside; it has allowed Germany to become the dominant economy and gain a lot of power.
When countries export more than they import then they need to invest overseas in order to balance payments. Within the Eurozone things are a bit different. Germany has a trade surplus with other Eurozone countries. This is in part due to its industry, but also due to its central location making it the ideal place for single market distribution centres, in particular for goods being imported from Asia.
At a global level the Euro’s balance of payments depends on the average of Eurozone countries. Within the Eurozone Germany maintains what would otherwise be an unsustainable balance.
Instead of ‘investing overseas’, Germany’s surplus has effectively allowed them to build up a controlling interest in other Eurozone states.
Target2 debt can be viewed as an investment that is paying off. Only a fool would want to ‘call it in’.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Let us not forget that the old Lire/BTP capital markets worked in a peverse way as volatility, supply, demand, derivatives and a massive retail domestic bond buyer support somehow came together and just ” functioned”?!!!!

Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago

The Italian word for it was ‘Systemazione’.
Industrialists, Politicians and Bankers would make under-the-counter deals to make it work.
It worked fine as long as import/exports represented a small proportion of the GDP, and Politicians succeeded in balancing the various internal factions.
In the 1980s two factors combined to make it collapse. Firstly Craxi decided he wanted to take on the role of the Christian Democrats as the leading and co-ordinating political force. Although he partially succeed, he did not win over important industrialists such as Agnelli and DeBenedetti. The political fabric was irreparably fractured and the Christian Democrats party, which had dominated politics since the birth of the Republic, eventually folded.
But another problem was the EEC, as it was then, tightening the screws on open market rules. The Italian government could no longer wade in to protect and subsidise Fiat. They could no longer use Olivetti as their single source for IT and office equipment.
However much one might want to criticize the ‘First Republic’, if we look at charts of economic development, GDP, living standards and national debt from WWII up until the 80s then it apparently worked.
It’s open debate as to how much Italy’s current woes are due to Craxi, and how much to the EU, but with the passage of time – Craxi is long gone – the EU seems to be the culprit.
The EU has forced Italy to abandon its old economic model, but it has provided no replacement.

Ann
Ann
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

You obviously haven’t got a clue about Italy’s economy and economic history. I’d love to engage in a healthy conversation with you but it’s clearly impossible as you’re not reasoning, you just want to confirm your uniformed bias and assemble few sentences around it. It’s fine, luckily everyone’s in his own bubble.

Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Ann

OK, let me try and engage in a healthy conversation. If I have no criticism then I’m doomed to remain in my own personal bubble.
By the way, I’m not so much ‘reasoning’ as ‘recalling’; when I first came to live in Italy Andreotti was PM. I have witnessed a massive transformation.
So, what particular aspects of Italy’s economy and economic history do you think I have got wrong?

Last edited 1 year ago by Roger Irwin
Peter Joy
PJ
Peter Joy
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael James

Ultimately, it would have to.

Hugh Marcus
HM
Hugh Marcus
1 year ago

Surely Italy’s biggest issue is that during the post 2008 recession, it, like several other countries needed the EU to prop up their failing economy & relieve their debt burden. The old saying “he who pays the pipe, calls the tune” is very apt here. Had Italy managed their own affairs better in the past, then they’d be much more able to stand on their own feet & therefore be able to express a free opinion in the EU’s affairs.

Michael James
MJ
Michael James
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

Exactly. The Italians resentfully stick with the EU because they fear they’re not up to self-government. That’s why the EU always wins in the end.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael James
Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael James

I think what drives a lot of Italians to ‘accept’ the EU is they think EU funds and the Euro are Manna from Heaven.
In Italy politics revolves around greed. Everybody wants to be ‘clever’ and get an unfair slice of the budget. Political life revolves around how much money you are perceived to be bringing into the local economy.
Their actual quality of life is not important, as long as Italians believe they are getting something for free they’re happy.
Currently everything revolves around the PNRR, the Covid recovery plan funded by the EU. The EU know full well they are losing money, but they also understand that Italians are selling the farm.
Just to put it in context, Fiat auto is now part of a French conglomerate and most Fiat cars are made in Poland. If the EU was a game of Monopoly, the Italians are like the kid who has sold up all his properties and is gleefully happy because he has more cash in his hand than the others…

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

Italy is 2 countries- Country 1- The state that eats money, and Country 2- the people who avoid taxes, so having income, revenue and savings that provide cash and capital inflow into the economy…..

Sidney Mysterious
SM
Sidney Mysterious
1 year ago

What a shock! the EU: Entitled United are finally being exposed for what they are. Power to the generation who provide nothing rich.

Graffiti Avenue
SA
Graffiti Avenue
1 year ago

I support Giorgia Meloni she is not another cookie cut globalist like Von Laden.Many people in Scotland wish we had leader like her who is straight forward not mincing her words.Instead we get backstabbing Liz Truss,Sir Keri & Sunak & Sturgeon,Who don’t give the people what they want or broke promises all the time.I know Silvio Berlusconi very well he is much loved in Italy and did a lot for people when he was in office.

Roger Irwin
RI
Roger Irwin
1 year ago

Berlusconi gave Italians their Target2 debt

In an election speech given today, Meloni made it quite clear she was not going to let Berlusconi muscle his way into her government.

ALESSANDRO BAZZI
AB
ALESSANDRO BAZZI
1 year ago

As an Italian I can say that we blame europe because we do not have the intellectual an moral rectitude to blame ourselves….europe steps in because we cannot manage our economy on our own and we do not have leader strong enough to pay a short term prize for gains in the long term…
I agree with the basic idea in teh article that there is a uniformity of economic thought, but that is not imposed by europe, but by self convenience…to give an example, among the reforms that draghi goverment was imposing, one provided for compulsory involvement of small business offers when tendering public contracts in municipalities and local districts….to avoid discretionary choices made in favour of public companies where politicians have huge influnces and interests… this provision, after Draghi resigned, has been cancelle dwith unanimous support from all coalition parteners……

Alex Cranberg
AC
Alex Cranberg
1 year ago

Italy has itself also mostly to blame for the energy mess. Its byzantine and dysfunctional regulatory process made domestic gas development, LNG and pipeline projects virtually impossible. Blaming sanctions after putting oneself squarely in a thug’s crosshairs is a similarly short-sighted diagnosis.

Chauncey Gardiner
CG
Chauncey Gardiner
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Cranberg

Sump’n to that.
That country to the west named after an Italian (“America”) has been making fitful progress toward its own, sclerotic EU-ization.

E. L. Herndon
EH
E. L. Herndon
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Cranberg

Is it true that a popular “ancestry” site has revealed that Franz Kafka was actually…Italian?

Jerry Carroll
JC
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

No one can or will say the reason for Italy’s enslavement? Perhaps the body blow suffered by Germany by Mutta Merkle’s years of complacent ignorance of reality–if not willing– will soften its rage to rule the lesser nations.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jerry Carroll
Russ W
RW
Russ W
1 year ago

Thanks to the author for helping me better understand what’s happening in the EU (I read https://staging.unherd.com/2021/07/the-eus-plan-to-defeat-euroscepticsm/) too, I see that the EU and the US are on parallel paths of ideological capture for the same reasons. I have children and this will not end well for them if the current trends continue. I don’t know how to stop them from continuing. Any ideas out there?

Matty D
MD
Matty D
1 year ago

Itally’s economic problems are self inflicted. Blaming the EU is like blaming a hospital that’s treating a drug addict.

Phil Mac
PM
Phil Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Matty D

Italy has always been chaotic, but they did it their way and I forget how many zeros were on the end of the Lira exchange rate but it balanced the chaos and allowed them to trade, or at the very least to be a great place to holiday.
The EU put an end to all that with tying them into the Euro, and with Germany absolutely loving how a massive trade surplus never led to an appreciating currency thus maintaining their competitive advantage, Italy and the other basket cases served their purpose.

Last edited 1 year ago by Phil Mac
Axel Kats
AK
Axel Kats
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Is the reason that people don’t buy Fiat cars anymore the fact that they are sold in euros? The currency is just an excuse, the country’s problems go deeper, from lack of investment in innovation, education & R&D to rampant bureaucracy, gerontocracy, corruption (remember, this is the home country of the mafia) and acute demographic decline. Little to do with the EU and the euro and a lot to do with Italy itself. There is a reason why some eurozone countries are successful exporters and some aren’t, and it’s not the euro.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

How I wish that my old friend and business relationship, Luca di Montezemolo could run Italy?

My memories of working in the corporate finance, M and A in automotive and financials, in Italy ,in the late 1990s and early 2000s,,is one of wistful memory of pleasure, and enjoyment, via my priveliged access via Medibanca and relationships to and with The Fiat empire, and others including The Benetton, Lazard, and the all powerful Generali.

A unique form of powerful and undemocratic ” getting stuff done”, that the American’s just did not ” get”, but it worked.

It was the power of relationships and access, that used to reign in the old City, and on Wall Street, and modern egalitariansim, that has replaced it, just does not…

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

What is so macabre is that, as I keep saying, Mussolini was like Hitler a National Socialist: As in Britain, the LBGT / racsim/ eco zealots ARE national socialists, so for them and their quisling media to describe a politician who wants more freedoms, as a ” fascist” is not only utterly nonsensical, but hypocrisy in extremis!

Sidney Mysterious
SM
Sidney Mysterious
1 year ago

As has been the result in all recorded history, rule by an elite group only benefits that elite group whether they are Czars, Kings, Kaisers, or puppets and politicians… disaster results. The rhetoric differs, but the goal is the same. “Enough is never enough”. Crumbs and corruption for the citizens, Largess, and luxury for the leaders. EU Brussels ain’t new it’s screwing you in committees too.

Methadras Aszlosis
MA
Methadras Aszlosis
1 year ago

Watching EU sensibilities dry rot for what they are aka garbage is quite pleasant. When will the EU finally shirk the yolk of bureaucratic malaise towards their citizens to treat them like nothing more than an infinite fountain of taxpayer money to fund their lavishness from Brussels on the next trendy political matter of the day? Currently, that’s Climate Change aka the weather and how on summer days it’s really hot and it bothers the pearl clutchers and when it’s cold why, they are going to turn off their heaters because they can’t afford the power coming to them from politicians who for decades set up policies that led to rationing, carbon credits (the scam that it is), and eschewing the very thing that has kept them blindly allowed them to live somewhat comfortable lives, energy generation because CO2 was deemed a pollutant. And now they have to live with it.
Meloni’s speeches against the techno’s, the oligarchs, the bankers, and the SJW’s is spot on. She’s revealing the game to what we already know has been happening in the states. That radical marxism intersection SJW wokeness is infecting the body of citizenry through political edicts and public policies. That the destruction of institutions, traditions, mores, values, and families is anathema to its continued bulldozing through all of your lives to turn you into a number. The soviet union tried this. The DPRK has done this. The CCP is engaged in it right now and yet, in America and the EU, this is an ongoing fight.
So the leftists create this mess of insane policies, the right-thinking people of America and the rest of the world think that the lunatics are running the asylum and the lunatics turn around when criticized point at the right-thinkers, and call them Hitler. Everyone they don’t agree with is Hitler. Why are you putting up with this? Why have you put up with it? Is it because you hate conflict? You don’t want to fight anymore? You’ve pacified the populace to the point that any criticism against your betters may lead to being a nail that has to get hammered?
We aren’t putting up with it in the US. In a few weeks, voting will take place and we’ll see if people want a change away from this nonsense or if they want to keep the current administration of utterly incompetent imbeciles in power and headed by a geriatric dementia patient that is barely coherent and doesn’t know where he is in time and space. At least in the EU you can hide said incompetence in a new public edict that will take years to pass by the bureaucracy, but you guys better pray that the people don’t turn on the nameless, faceless bureaucrats.

Graff von Frankenheim
GV
Graff von Frankenheim
1 year ago

Is Paolo Cornetti an EU puppet? I have all the evidence needed….in a hollowed-out pumpkin in my Maryland farm.