Italian voters elected the most rightwing government since 1945

 Extreme rightwing Giorgia Meloni is likely to be the first female Italian Prime Minister

Italian voters yesterday elected the “most right-wing” government since the Second World War. Fratelli d’Italia [Brothers of Italy], led by Giorgia Meloni, emerged as the largest party with 26 percent of the votes. The Far right Giorgia Meloni is likely to become the first female Prime Minister of Italy. In 2018, Meloni’s party got just 4.3percent of the vote and 32 MPs. But it emerged as the leading party in 2022. The Centre-right coalition has won 43.82% of the votes while centre- Left coalition bagged 26.2percent votes. Democratic Party (PD) got 19.11percent votes. The M5S [Five Stars] at 15.33 percent, did better than expected, although it did far worse than back in 2018.

The League, led by Salvini, suffered a heavy defeat at 8.8 percent doing just slightly better than Berlusconi's Forza Italia, which won 8.1 percent; Azione-Italia Viva [a splinter group of former PD MPs, including Renzi] won 7.78 percent; Italian Left/Greens won 3.64 percent and a number of smaller forces failed to break through the 3 percent threshold needed to be elected to parliament. This includes the Popular Union (which had as one of its components Rifondazione Comunista) – the only real left coalition – that scraped together a miserable 1.43 percent.

It seems likely that Meloni’s coalition will have a majority of around 235 MPs of the 400 member chamber and 115 Senators – the Senate has 206 senators. Fratelli d’Italia’s share of this will be 118 MPs and 66 senators, which mean Meloni, will have to constantly compromise with the League and Forza Italia, making for what could prove to be an unstable coalition as each party seeks to gain at the expense of its partners.

Meloni is an utterly reactionary right-wing bigot. For instance, in recent years she has expressed her opposition to a law that forbids police officers from using torture during interrogations; she is against gay marriage; she is against granting citizenship to the children of immigrants born in Italy; she poses immigration as a threat to “Italian identity”; she has expressed clear Islamophobic views and wants to set up a naval blockade of Libya; she wants to limit the right to abortion and so on.

She also totally supports NATO and its war efforts in Ukraine and will be a contributing element in the continuation of sanctions against Russia, sanctions that are really hurting the Italian economy.

In fact, one of the words Meloni has repeated many times since winning the election is “responsibility”. She is sending a clear message to the Italian bourgeois and to the European Union that under her government Italy will remain within the EU and will carry out policies in line with the needs of capitalism. She was not the preferred politician of the ruling class, but she is saying to them: “you can trust me”.

 The turnout is significantly low at 63.91 percent. The turnout was 73percent in 2018. This clearly shows that big distance is growing between a huge layer of the population and all the existing parties. Compare this to 1976, when over 93 percent of the electorate turned out to vote and one gets an idea of the process that has been taking place.  

Nearly 36percent voters didn’t bother to vote in this election. Many leftwing voters opted to stay away from the polling stations due to the lack of real left alternate.

The voters have rejected the Draghi led grand coalition. The people are not happy the way the previous Draghi government addressed the cost of living crisis.  The life of ordinary Italians has been worsening as each year passes. Italy’s public debt is amongst the highest in the advanced industrialised countries, forcing every government to seek ways of paying it off, and it is always the working class that pays.

Inflation is getting close to the 9 percent mark, while the country has among the lowest wages in Europe. So-called flexible working conditions have been introduced, rendering millions of workers precarious, with no permanent labour contracts. Poverty has been increasing, especially in the south. In many areas the youth find it very difficult to find jobs.

Meanwhile, privatisation has whittled away at the gains of the past. Healthcare has deteriorated, transport networks have worsened, education is massively underfunded and there is a general feeling of malaise, a feeling that “we can’t go on living like this”.

The pandemic added to the stresses; while the inflationary spiral and the deepening economic crisis, together with the impact of the war in Ukraine, with energy bills skyrocketing, have further strengthened this feeling. Draghi was becoming a hated man among many layers.

The tragedy of this whole situation is that there is no viable or credible force on the left that could have offered an alternative. The responsibility for this scenario falls on the shoulders of the reformist left – in particular the former leaders of the old Communist Party, who sold out completely to the bosses. And the leaders of Rifondazione Comunista also must take their share of responsibility.

When the old PCI split in two in 1991, the majority would quickly move to the right, forming the Democratic Left Party (PDS), which then gave way to the Democratic Party (PD). The minority formed Rifondazione Comunista, which was seen as the most left-wing party in parliament, reaching a peak of over 8 percent in the 1996 elections, and with over 100,000 members. 

In the name of “stopping the right wing”, however, just when the party was at its peak electorally, its leaders decided to back the Prodi-led Centre-Left coalition government, and then in 2006 it actually entered the second Prodi government, taking upon itself responsibility for that government’s anti-working-class policies.

This led to the disastrous result in 2008, when it lost all its MPs, and it has not recovered since. In yesterday’s elections, what is left of Rifondazione stood in an alliance of other left groups under the name of Unione Popolare [Popular Union], which won just 1.4 percent?

                                                                 Khalid Bhatti 

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