Far-Right League Gains Most from Governing in Italy

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015 (European Parliament)

Italy’s far-right League is benefiting the most from the government deal it struck with the populist Five Star Movement earlier this month.

  • In municipal elections on Sunday, the League captured the former left-wing strongholds of Massa, Pisa and Siena in the region of Tuscany.
  • Nationally, the League is tied with the Five Star Movement in the polls. Both get 27-29 percent support. In the last election, the Five Stars got 33 percent support against 17 percent for the League. Read more

Italy Joins Trump in Resisting Canadian Trade

Prime Ministers Giuseppe Conte of Italy and Justin Trudeau of Canada meet at the G7 summit in Charlevoix, June 8
Prime Ministers Giuseppe Conte of Italy and Justin Trudeau of Canada meet at the G7 summit in Charlevoix, June 8 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

Italy has learned from Donald Trump that Canada is now the enemy of the West.

In an interview with the newspaper La Stampa, the country’s new agriculture minister, Gian Marco Centinaio of the far-right League, said he would ask parliament not to ratify the trade agreement the EU negotiated with Canada in 2016.

Without ratification by all 28 member states, the treaty cannot go into effect for the entire European Union. Read more

Italy Has Become Two Countries

View from the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy
View from the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy (Unsplash/Patrick Schneider)

In my latest story for the Diplomatic Courier, I argue that Italy’s economic north-south divide has become political.

The far-right League, which Matteo Salvini has transformed into Italy’s version of the National Front, is the biggest party in the north, where incomes are 10-14 percent above the European average. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement is the biggest party in the south, including on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, where incomes are barely above the level in Greece.

These two parties now rule Italy in a coalition government. Read more

Technology Could Help Mend Italy’s North-South Divide

View from Arcevia, a town in the central Italian region of Marche, December 24, 2013
View from Arcevia, a town in the central Italian region of Marche, December 24, 2013 (Giorgio Rodano)

The results of the 2018 election in Italy reflected two main economic realities: the economic struggles in Italy relative to northern Europe and the economic struggles in southern Italy relative to northern Italy. The former helped anti-establishment parties to gain a large share of the country’s vote. The latter resulted in Lega Nord and center-right parties performing well throughout much of the north of Italy and the Five Star Movement performing well in the south of Italy.

In geopolitics — the school of thought that argues that geography is the most significant or fundamental element in politics — these two economic realities have the same obvious source: mountains. Italy and southern Europe are much more mountainous than northern Europe and southern Italy is much more mountainous than northern Italy.

Mountainous regions tend to be much poorer than non-mountainous regions. Italy is no exception. Read more

Spain Isn’t Italy

The sun rises in Madrid, Spain, June 14, 2011
The sun rises in Madrid, Spain, June 14, 2011 (Wendy Rauw)

Given the timing over the political turmoil in Italy and Spain, it’s tempting to lump the two together and see one big threat to Europe’s political stability emanating from the south. (One example here.)

That’s not the wrong interpretation for Italy. The new government, of the populist Five Star Movement and far-right League, really is opposed to EU principles of liberal democracy and shared sovereignty.

In Spain, though, the change in government could work out in Europe’s favor, as I explain in my latest contribution to the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog. Read more

Five Star, League Reach Deal to Form Government in Italy After All

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of Italy's Five Star Movement, answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 12
Luigi Di Maio, the leader of Italy’s Five Star Movement, answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 12 (Presidenza della Repubblica)

The leaders of Italy’s Five Star Movement and League have reached a deal to stave off early elections.

Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini still want Giuseppe Conte, an academic, as prime minister. But they are willing to relent on the selection of finance minister.

Paolo Savona, whose nomination sparked a constitutional crisis, would still join the cabinet, but as European affairs — not finance — minister. That post would go to Giovanni Tria, an economics lecturer. Read more

Italy in Crisis After President Blocks Anti-EU Government

Italian president Sergio Mattarella delivers a news conference in Rome, April 5
Italian president Sergio Mattarella delivers a news conference in Rome, April 5 (Presidenza della Repubblica)
  • Italian president Sergio Mattarella has blocked a government of the Euroskeptic Five Star Movement and League by vetoing its candidate for finance minister.
  • A technocratic government, led by Carlo Cottarelli, is due to take power until new elections can be held. Read more