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Brothers of Italy at work to seat in ECR with Polish ruling party (and maybe Orban)

Giorgia Meloni with the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban [personal archive]

Not only the League or the Five Star Movement. There is a ‘third way’ which can bring populists of Poland to Italy, and this is the path of an alliance with Brothers of Italy. The Italian right-wing party is working to try to bring on his side Jaroslaw Kaczyński’s party, Law and Justice (PiS), and tear it away from the orbit of the now rivals of la Lega.

If the party will reach the threshold required by the Italian electoral law, in the next European Parliament Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, or FDI) will seat within the group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) to challenge the EU in coalition with the populist forces of eastern Europe, the leader of the party officially announced already at the end of 2018. The decision taken by Giorgia Meloni is expected to produce a particular political dynamic, since it will set up new relations between FDI and its partners, especially the Italian ones.

Berlusconi and Mussolini, Fdi in love with ‘ventennios’

FDI is traditionally linked to Forza Italia (or FI), Silvio Berlusconi’s party. Brothers of Italy was created in 2012 from a split of The People of Freedom (PdL), the main great center-right coalition at that time. Giorgia Meloni’s FDI is the main heir of the Italian post-fascist conservative culture deriving from the Italian Social Movement (1946–1995) and, after that, National Alliance (1995–2009). Acting as coalition partner of FI in Rome, Meloni is thus today the main parliamentary point of reference of all Italians a certain, specific, clear political culture.

Pierpaolo Signore, FDI member of the local government in Lecce, referring to the march on Rome while people from the same party make the Roman salute on background (2017, personal archive)

FI and FDI are in somehow united in Italy, but they are divided in – and on – Europe. Forza Italia is member of the European People’s Party (EPP) and its parliamentary group, while Brothers of Italy, as said, has announced to join other forces. In practical terms Giorgia Meloni’s decision means that her FDI will run alone at the next elections. So, the common electoral lists created for the Italian general election of March 2018 will be no replicated.

Meloni’s FDI wasn’t able to elect any MEP in 2014 but in early December 2018 Raffaele Fitto gave life to a new partnership with FDI, left the EPP group and joined the ECR. That was the begin of Meloni’s political project in the light of the next May European elections.

“We are ready to challenge the European Union, with the aim of building up a kind of Europe capable of preserving the identity, the borders and the real economy”, Giorgia Meloni stated. “Our model is a confederation of free and sovereign States which cooperate on big issues, but completely free to self-determine themselves”, she explained. “The ECR group is the closest one to our model”.

The Italian right fighting for Kaczyński and Orban

After Brexit the ECR group will be led with any probability by PiS, the current Polish ruling party. “This is the main ruling party of the Visegrad bloc which represents to us a model of staying in Europe at heads up high without renouncing our national sovereignty”, Meloni stressed. Her political dream-team would see the participation of Viktor Orban’s Fidesz, too. “We hope in May Orban could join the ECR. That would be a coherent and positive choice”.

Meloni met the Hungarian prime minister already at the beginning of 2018, during an official visit paid to the eastern country. The goal of that trip was to discuss about the next European Parliament and the groups to form in it.

If sitting together with PiS appears easier since the Polish party already is within the anti-federalist group of ECR, Orban seems to have no intentions of leaving the European People’s Party (EPP), but nevertheless Meloni and her party are at work to try to bring together non-traditional forces, creating a single populist front in Europe. So wants The League’s Matteo Salvini, and the competition for possible political partnerships ‘made in Vysegrad’ is splitting even more an already fragmented Italian environment.

Nothing to say: in this run to a coalition with the main Vysegrad characters, Meloni launched an open challenge to all her Italians colleagues. Orban is currently sitting in EPP, where Silvio Berlusconi and the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, also are. The leader of The League, Matteo Salvini, is also seeking alliances with the Hungarian leader.

Post-fascist and anti-rule of law cultures meet

The Italian right-wing party is keen to cooperate with forces accused to breach the rule of law. For such a reason both Poland and Hungary experienced powerful reactions from the EU bodies, ended with the European Commission launching an infringement procedure against PiS and the European Parliament that voted in favor of opening the sanctionatory procedure against Hungary into the EU Council.

The only real problem for Meloni and her party are the European elections. It could sound weird, but it does not. In order to bring MEPs to Brussels and Strasbourg it is required to get at least 4% of consent. According to the latest polls, FDI is not able to reach such a target, and this is why Giorgia Meloni is working at local level in order to be sure of conquering seats. In Trentino, the north-eastern region with the German-speaking minority, FdI is expected to run together with Alto Adige nel Cuore (AANC), powerful local party able to attract consent offering in this sense the guarantee of bringing somebody to Brussels.

Looking at Spain and France, too

Giorgia Meloni is conducting a pro-European campaign to find possible anti-European allies. An eye is of course on the eastern part of the continent, but the other is on the the part of the geo-political map that Italy knows best: Spain and France.

FDI is considering the possibility of a coalition with the far-right, anti-Islam, euro-skeptic Spanish party of VOX. Another possible partner is the right-wing, sovereignist party France Arise (Debout la France, DlF).

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