Italian Greens prepare for Brussels comeback

Passwords: re-organization and re-start. Even with former members of Euro-critic parties. Greens are at work in Italy to find the way back home, the European home they miss since 2009. After two legislatures spent outside the European Parliament it is time to give the EU a true pro-ecologist contribution, is the thought behind this operation. This is how the Federation of the Greens (FdV), Green Italy (GI) and Italy in Common (IiC) decided to join forces for the next May elections, with the aim of bring the country’s envoys back in the family of the European Greens.

The political construction site was launched in Italy in the form of a special press conference where it was possible to see sitting together Monica Frassoni, former FdV MEP, and Federico Pizzarotti, former member of Five Stars Movement (M5S), from where he was expelled in 2016, due to differences with the top figures of the party.

A new season

Frassoni, current co-president of the European Green Party (EGP), has the intention of revitalise a party once very pro-active both at national and at EU level, but which has remained outside the parliamentary playground for too long. Italians Greens have been absent from the national Parliament since 2008, and from the EU body since 2009. Last times they passed the electoral threshold was 2006 for the Italian and 2004 for the European elections. 

It won’t be easy for the Greens of Italy. FdV alone is far from the 4% barrier required to be elected in Brussels. Alliances are thus necessary, and this is how Frassoni decided to create an unprecedented partnership with Pizzarotti. The latter, current mayor of Parma, a city in the north of Italy, is in disagreement with the party he was elected with, in 2012. “We can contribute, thanks to the credibility of our European family, to create a credible option” for Europe, Frassoni stressed.

Closed doors for Five Stars

Greens have no intention of making alliances of any kind with the 5-Star Movement (M5S). There is a small ecologist sensibility within the Movement, but it is too weak compared to the pro-European spirit the European Greens require. “It true than on many topics 5-Star people are voting very much like the Greens, but there are also major points of divergence, and this make an alliance impossible”, the co-president of the group of European Greens, Philippe Lamberts, remarked during the press conference.

Migration, the future of the EU and the single currency, and “also the very strange concept of democracy they have” are the reasons why, according to Lamberts, Di Maio’s M5S will be never in the position of be accepted on board the Green European group. Furthermore, he explained, Greens don’t like “the fact they have decided, consciously, to ally with the League”.  Both Lamberts and Frassonni made clear that there is no space for politicians with such allies. “Can you imagine a party that is member of the Greens in the European Parliament going with far right? No way”.

Catching disaffected voters

The move of have Pizzarotti on board is very smart one. M5S promised to stop the TAP gas pipeline project, to avoid oil companies to drill in the Adriatic sea, and to shut down the Ilva steelwork in Taranto, in the south of Italy. None of these promises was kept, creating frustration and disappointment among the voters of M5S. For them, Di Maio & Co. have simply failed, so far, and betrayed the Italians.

“The government policy completely forgot about environment, and the position of M5S on these topics suffers from unpreparedness”, former Five Star Pizzarotti criticized. “But there are other subjects on which they have changed their mind without saying it, like the F-35 aircraft”.

Last month Luigi Di Maio said F-35 fighter jets are not a priority for the country and that his government would review the program in 2019.

Pizzarotti has its own supporters in Italy. He was able to be elected once, and he’s sure to contribute to gather consensus around green politics.  The fact that M5S disappointed many of its own voters on environmental issues is a key element in Frassoni and Pizzarotti’s strategy to try to obtain at least one seat in Brussels.

New domestic alliances

The Italian Greens are open to alliances to anybody who share the vision of a Europe that be “different, more fair and sustainable”. A partnership is possible with Free and Equals (Liberi e uguali, or LeU) and maybe with Emma Bonino’s +Europa. The Greens are thus trying to bring together the smallest parties of the country for a shaping a new euro-environmentalism. It won’t be easy, but it is not impossible.

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