At the G7 summit in Italy, no one exudes more self-confidence than host Giorgia Meloni

The election of Giorgia Meloni as Prime Minister of Italy in September 2022 was viewed with great suspicion by the rest of the world. Meloni seemed like a populist firebrand promising a naval blockade against African immigrants. He accused the EU of destroying the continent’s Christian identity. And then his party, the Fratelli d’Italia, also left fascism.

On Thursday, Giorgia Meloni will receive the leaders of the G7 countries (industrial powers) at the Borgo Egnazia station, near Bari. As Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Rishi Sunak travel to ruined Italy, and Joe Biden struggles to stay afloat, Meloni will shine as a successful Prime Minister who scored a resounding victory in Sunday’s European elections and emerged as a pragmatist. and effective politician. In a short time, Meloni went from troublemaker to statesman.

“I am proud that this nation is presenting itself at the G7 summit as the strongest government of all,” Meloni said Monday. “That is a satisfaction and a responsibility.”

About the Author
Peter Giesen is foreign editor of by Volkskrant and writes about the European Union and international cooperation. Previously he was a correspondent in France.

Bridge to the radical right

In 2014, Meloni wanted Italy to leave the euro. But once she became Prime Minister, she quickly realized that Italy needs the EU. As a country with a stagnant economy and high public debt, Italy cannot pass up the €190 billion coronavirus recovery fund. In the area of ​​migration, Italy bears a heavy burden, as a country located on the external European border where many immigrants from Africa arrive. Meloni realized that the EU could help, with the migration pact that redistributes migrants across the continent when the pressure on one country becomes too great.

Meloni quickly managed to gain the trust of European leaders. He traveled to Tunisia and Egypt with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, to close migration deals. In exchange for European money for economic development, both countries promised to detain migrants. Unlike other radical right leaders, Meloni strongly supported Ukraine and opposed Russia. In December, he underscored his pro-Western stance by withdrawing from China’s Silk Road initiative.

Giorgia Meloni on June 1, at a campaign rally for the European elections.Image Tiziana Fabi/AFP

“Meloni has been smart,” Daniele Albertazzi, a political science professor at Britain’s University of Surrey, told Reuters. He moved towards the center and presented himself as a bridge between the center right and the radical right, assuming responsibility on the international stage. “I worked very well with Giorgia Meloni,” Von der Leyen said. “She is clearly pro-European.” Cooperation was facilitated by the fact that the centre-right was moving closer to the radical right, especially in the area of ​​migration.

In any case, Giorgia Meloni gave a new face to the radical right. While her French kindred spirit, Marine Le Pen, sees the EU as an opponent, Meloni seeks cooperation with the Union. By making concessions, she wants to take the EU even further to the right, including in the areas of migration, climate and the environment.

Censorship and political intervention

For Flemish political scientist and EU expert Hendrik Vos, Giorgia Meloni’s development shows how government responsibility forces moderation. Within the EU, radical positions soften in the face of confrontation with reality: Meloni saw that she cannot do without Europe.

However, it is not easy to shake off his party’s fascist past. Meloni may seem reasonable, but can she be trusted? “He has made a 180-degree turn in his foreign policy, but in Italy he is doing exactly what he promised,” Italian political scientist Cecilia Emma Sottilotta told Canadian broadcaster CBC. She cracked down on same-sex parents and allowed anti-abortion activists to perform at clinics. Journalists at state broadcaster Rai have gone on strike because they say they increasingly face censorship and political intervention.

In addition, Meloni presented a controversial reform of the constitution, according to which Italians would directly elect a prime minister for five years. According to Meloni, a democratic measure that will benefit stability. His opponents, however, see the plan as a step toward a more authoritarian government.

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

“There are two Melonis,” consultant Wolfango Piccoli told the AP news agency. The pragmatic Meloni towards abroad and the conservative Meloni towards the homeland. Will the foreign Meloni always remain so reasonable? Or is he a wolf in sheep’s clothing who sooner or later will be “more than happy to show his true face,” as Italian political scientist Nathalie Tocci says in The New York Times supposed? What do you do when the international balance of power changes, for example due to the return of Donald Trump? Meloni has an excellent relationship with the radical wing of the American Republicans.

There are many doubts, but for now Giorgia Meloni is the stateswoman who will receive the best of international politics starting Thursday, as the internationally respectable face of the radical right.

Source link

Leave a Comment

dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus dus