Should Europe be scared of Italy’s populists?

23 05 18

There should be a health warning attached to all debate, guesswork, predictions and evaluations being made right now about the anti-establishment government being put together in Rome.

Yes, this is very much part of the populist nationalist wave that has been sweeping across Europe from Austria, to Hungary, France and the UK but at the same time you really have to view this drama through a pair of Italian opera glasses to get a better sense of what’s going on.

This, we must remember, is Italy.

A country known for high drama. A nation that flirted with modern-day populism ahead of the US and the rest of Europe – with the first Berlusconi government back in 1994.

This is also a country that threatened to (but ultimately did not) bring the eurozone crashing down before – in 2011 during the European debt crisis.

Also important to note is that Italy’s political system was redesigned after its fascist dictatorship and World War Two to avoid any one politician or party getting too much power ever again.

So even if this marriage of The League and the Five Star movement does take off, and if they manage to contain the very big ideological differences that exist between them (and that’s a big if), getting dramatic reforms passed rapidly through the Italian parliament will be an uphill struggle for them.



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