Europe braces for Italy’s far-right this week

Last week’s tour of the European Parliament provided the spectacle on the European political scene, showcasing European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s energy proposals, declaring Hungary a ‘hybrid regime’ and rushing a civil servant to the first square.

This week, Europe is bracing for the shock of having a far-right leader at the helm of the eurozone’s third-largest country – which also happens to be one of the most indebted.

Italian voters head to the polls next Sunday (September 25), and the country’s latest far-right darling and his right-wing bloc are on course to win a clear majority according to the latest polls.

The far-right Brothers of Italy party, which dominates the conservative alliance, is expected to be the largest single party and has widened its lead over the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Brothers of Italy, could be the first female Prime Minister in the history of Italy. It is supported by Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

The parties could obtain an absolute majority in both chambers of parliament.

An Ipsos poll – from a week ago, due to an embargo on polls before the vote –– puts the Brothers of Italy at 25.1%, the PD at 20.5%, with 5 stars left at 14.5% and the League at 12.5%. .

Europe’s right-wing forces are hoping the triumph of Italy’s far-right could change their fortunes and catapult their parties into EU governments.

Continued allegations of Russian connections could change that, although it’s unlikely to upset the expected outcome in Italy.

The United States said last week that Russia had donated at least 301 million euros ($300 million) to political parties in more than two dozen countries.

Salvini, who once hailed Putin as “the finest statesman on earth today”, has repeatedly denied receiving any money from Russia.

Meloni also denied receiving money from abroad and threatened to sue a newspaper that questioned whether she had taken Russian money, Reuters reported.

Nevertheless, the Hungarian media already reported Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told supporters in a closed-door meeting that he counted on Italy’s new government to delay the reversal of sanctions against Russia until the fall.

Freeze

Speaking of Hungary, the country is facing a freeze in EU funds as the commission on Sunday (September 18th) proposed a suspension of grants due to ongoing concerns over the rule of law and corruption.

On the rule of law, EU affairs ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss the report of the rule of law commission from July.

Ministers are expected to focus on judicial systems, the anti-corruption framework, media pluralism and checks and balances in the bloc’s democracies.

missing queen

On Monday, Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will take place in London, and European Commission President von der Leyen is expected to attend.

On Tuesday, September 20, von der Leyen will be in New York, together with European Council President Charles Michel, at the United Nations General Assembly, where they will meet UN Secretary General António Guterres.

Mary I. Bruner