At last Italy has a Conservative Party

(Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d’Italia)

Ever since the elections in March 2018, almost all Italian parties have contradicted the platforms they stood on and the values they meant to represent.

Since August 2019, the government has been a “yellow-red” coalition of Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), “yellow”, a populist movement, and several left-wing parties, the “reds”: the liberal-democrats of Italia Viva (IV) led by Matteo Renzi, the social-democrats of Partito Democratico (PD) and the progressives of Liberi e Uguali (LeU). The government is always in constant tension and ongoing clashes because there are so few areas of political common ground between its members. Indeed, until the creation of this coalition government they were explicitly political adversaries. The only common goal shared by the members of the government was the desire to not have another election following the sudden fall of the previous government.

That previous government was formed by M5S and Lega, “greens”, a nationalist movement and the largest right-wing party. The leader of Lega, Matteo Salvini, was both the founder and the downfall of this government, through his unscrupulous and daring political behaviour.

In the election of March 2018, Salvini positioned himself as the leader of the right-wing coalition, in opposition to both M5S – the largest party in Italy in terms of votes – and to the left-wing. After the election, realising the impossibility of forming a government exclusively of the right, Salvini abandoned the coalition and formed a government with M5S. This new government almost exclusively followed left wing policy objectives: weak on justice, further increases to the public debt and indifference to ethical issues. It was only on immigration that Lega remained in line with the right-wing coalition’s policies with Salvini waging war against illegal immigration, gaining some notable but not decisive results.

In the European elections of May 2019, the “greens” doubled their vote share, becoming the largest grouping from Italy, while the “yellows” lost half their vote. In the wake of this success and accusing M5S of restricting government action, Salvini broke the government’s alliance and asked for a new election. The left, despite continued severe criticism of the government parties decided to cynically turn down an election and formed a new government with M5S.

Due to this horse-trading, every one of these major parties have failed their electorate and rejected their mandate from the voters by allying themselves with parties that they had presented as their implacable opponents.

There is only one party that has maintained a consistent, coherent and principled position through these turbulent past few years. This virtue explains the constant growth of the second largest party in the right-wing coalition: Fratelli d’Italia (FdI). This is the first party in Italy to call itself conservative and the only Italian member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party.

Its leader, Giorgia Meloni, distinguished herself through her just opposition to ceding political ground – and therefore legitimacy – to the policies of the left and through her constant work to maintain the unity of the right-wing coalition.

FdI has a serious conservative program: with a modern and dynamic patriotism that consists of several core values. A liberal economic vision that respects the importance of free trade but also the worth of domestic products, a strong stance on illegal immigration, opposition to EU bureaucracy, and regarding the family as a fundamental pillar of society.

The coherence, strength and perspective of FdI are beginning to bear fruit: votes for Giorgia Meloni’s party have increased in every one of the last regional elections. It should also be noted that, although Lega continues to be the largest party in Italy, Salvini’s aggressive and demagogic style is starting to lose voters, many of whom find FdI a more credible proposal.

The next national election may be some way off as, even though the current government is based on shifting ground, it will survive though the fear of a new election. The government knows that when the next election comes, a victory of the right-wing coalition is almost certain and will kick the left out of power. Many Italians have longed for a new election and have great hopes for the conservative force of FdI, which is likely to be a fundamental part of the next government of Italy.

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