Mattia Ferraresi

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A rally organized by the major right-wing parties, in Rome this month. Franco Origlia/Getty Images

It happened here, again. Nearly 100 years since the March on Rome, Italy on Sunday voted in a right-wing coalition headed by a party directly descended from Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime.

This is, to put it mildly, concerning. Yet the most pervasive worry is not that Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party will reinstitute fascism in Italy — whatever that would mean. It’s that a government led by her will transform Italy into an “electoral autocracy”, along the lines of Viktor Orban’s Hungary. During the campaign, the center-left Democratic Party — Brothers of Italy’s main opponent — obsessively invoked Hungary as Italy’s destiny under Ms.…  Seguir leyendo »

Italy is going through an exciting time. The country, which was brutally battered by covid-19 in 2020, has been praised as a model in handling the crisis in 2021. Its economy is now growing faster than Germany and at about the same pace of France. Its national soccer team won the European Championship, its athletes overperformed in the Olympics, an Italian rock band won the Eurovision Song Contest, and Italian physicist Giorgio Parisi was awarded the Nobel Prize. Last week, the Economist selected Italy as its country of the year for being the “most improved” nation in 2021.

In some respects, there is reason for optimism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi speaks during a news conference in Rome on April 16. (Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg)

Italians did not just expect Mario Draghi to lead the government — they wanted him to save the country.

In February, when the former European Central Bank head was selected as prime minister of Italy, people hoped he would leverage his legendary reputation to accelerate a slowly rolling vaccination plan, mitigate the economic downturn, negotiate with the European Union on the recovery package from a position of strength and reform one of the most tenaciously irreformable political systems around.

But great expectations often lead to great disappointments. In little more than two months, Draghi seems to have lost momentum, failing to capitalize on the rare spirit of national unity that surrounded his nomination.…  Seguir leyendo »

A banner reading “Salvini get out of Genoa” during an anti-fascist and anti-racist demonstration against Matteo Salvini in Genoa, Italy, in April. Credit Simone Arveda/EPA, via Shutterstock

There’s a number of things any savvy politician who cares about liberal democracy should avoid: feeding the idea that the popular will is generally disregarded and political power is managed by unelected elites in smoked-filled rooms; forming politically incoherent alliances with the sole purpose of excluding populists; and fueling the perception that the most important decisions of a country are taken outside of its borders.

Italy’s political class is utterly disregarding all this. To oust illiberal demagogues from power, its mainstream parties are resorting to the same tactics and management styles that allowed populism to flourish, planting the seeds for its return.…  Seguir leyendo »

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini of Italy on the Italian talk show “Porta a Porta” in Rome last year, while a picture of Pope Francis was projected in the background. Credit Andreas Solaro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On paper, Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, is a dubious poster child for Catholicism. Mr. Salvini is divorced. He has two children by two women and is in a relationship with a third. But that hasn’t stopped him from reinventing himself as Italy’s Catholic-in-chief. “I am the last of the good Christians”, Mr. Salvini, 46, said recently, during an appearance on the popular TV show “Non è l’Arena”. “I defend our history and the existence of Catholic schools”, he said during the same appearance. “If I believe in God”, he asked rhetorically, “and if I even ask for Mary’s protection, does that bother anybody?”…  Seguir leyendo »