The EU Is Bracing for a Far-Right Surge in Italy

The EU Is Bracing for a Far-Right Surge in Italy
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi attends a debate at the Senate in Rome, July 20, 2022 (AP photo by Gregorio Borgia).

The news of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s resignation is causing despondence in Brussels. The announcement will throw Italy into months of political turmoil and risks ushering in a new far-right government in the next general election, which is scheduled for this fall.

Draghi’s resignation caps off a week of drama in Rome that kicked off when the Five Star Movement, or 5SM—the largest party in Italy’s parliament and the bedrock of the prime minister’s unity coalition—announced that it would not take part in a confidence motion last week, effectively torpedoing Draghi’s government. Draghi initially offered to resign the premiership last week, but Italian President Sergio Mattarella rejected that offer and tasked him with going back to the parliament to resolve the impasse, hoping to avert a political crisis that would unsettle financial markets and trigger elections. But then the right-wing parties in Draghi’s coalition, Forward Italy and The League, withdrew their support for his government, sensing an opportunity to score a big win in the election that would follow the government’s collapse.

The League—the party led by far-right populist Matteo Salvini—and Brothers of Italy, another far-right party, have been rising in the polls, and it is expected they will emerge from this fall’s election with enough seats to form their own government, with the center-right Forza Italia, founded by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, as a junior partner. The League’s Salvini and Brothers’ Giorgia Meloni have both expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, which doesn’t seem to have hurt their standing among Italian voters. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had the same luck during Hungary’s general election three months ago.

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