Matteo Salvini Appears to Have Made a Huge Mistake
Italy’s most popular politician appears to have made a huge mistake.
Matteo Salvini, the country’s hardline interior minister, brought down his far-right League’s government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement on Tuesday, hoping to trigger early elections that polls suggest his party would win.
But none of the other parties are willing to play ball. Read more
30 percent of Italians between the ages of 15 and 24 are out of work, more or less the same rate as in Spain but almost double the eurozone average.
Of those in work, the majority are on temporary contracts.
Nearly eight out of ten young Italians are in part-time work and unable to find full-time employment, the highest rate by far among large European economies. In France and Spain, it’s about 50 percent.
Italy spends far less on tertiary education that its neighbors. The result: only 27 percent of Italians in their thirties have a university degree, the second-lowest rate in the EU, where the average is 40 percent. Italy does especially poorly in educating migrants: just 13 percent of its foreign-born population has completed university against 36 percent in the EU as a whole.
Average real incomes are roughly at the level they were in 1995. In France, Germany and Spain, they have grown about 25 percent.
3.2 percent of working-age Italians now live elsewhere in the EU, up from 2.4 percent in 2008. Read more
The leaders of Italy’s ruling populist parties have backed down from a fight with the European Commission over their 2019 budget.
Luigi Di Maio, the labor minister and leader of the Five Star Movement, and Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the far-right League, said after a meeting on Sunday that they had given their blessing to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s revised spending plan, which reduces next year’s shortfall from 2.4 to 2 percent of GDP. Read more
Rome on Collision Course with European Allies, Financial Markets
I cheered too soon. A few weeks ago, I reported that Italy’s populists were coming to terms with reality. Now they have introduced a spending plan that puts them on a collision course with the European Commission and financial markets.
Reneging on the commitment of the last government, the coalition of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League, formed four months ago, proposes to run a deficit equal to 2.4 percent of GDP in 2019.
That is still below the EU’s 3-percent ceiling, but it is a reversal of the fiscal consolidation path followed so far and it means Italy’s public debt, already one of the highest in the world at 130 percent of GDP, will rise rather than fall. Read more
My latest post for the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog previews next week’s meeting between American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte.
Although the leaders got along well at the recent G7 and NATO summits, and share views on immigration, international relations and trade, I wouldn’t be surprised if the meeting turned out to be a disappointment.
On both military spending and trade — Trump’s pet peeves when it comes to Europe — Conte’s government opposes the American president. Read more