Italy is verging on a political farce

All of a sudden Italy has become the subject of a great deal of handwringing over the possible electoral victory of a flamboyant alliance of three rightist parties. There is nothing new about the leaders of such an alliance, from the obstreperous Berlusconi of “bunga bunga” fame to the League firebrand Matteo Salvini, the man who has demonstrated his sympathy for Putin in various ways. The Italian parliamentary elections scheduled for Sept. 25 feature a different, and more insidious protagonist, a woman by the name of Giorgia Meloni, long associated with the neofascist party MSI and its emblem, the tricolor flame that stands for a complex ideology: neofascism, nationalism, Euroscepticism and anti-Americanism.Meloni has strived to popularize an anachronistic party, cleverly named Brothers of Italy, in spite of the heavy Fascist baggage that it carries, and to build it into a major political force. This has happened not so much because of the attraction of any of its ideological components but precisely because it mixes things up in such a way that many Italians consider the Brothers of Italy the lesser of other evils. Meloni serves up a new type of political cocktail that even includes a dose of Atlanticism, which translates into support for American ideals. In fact, she markets an American style philosophy that is very similar to that of the ultra-right in the United States.The lady’s skill lies in her ability to close the circle of denouncing the Europeanist orthodoxy while at the same time escaping the trap of Euro-sceptic sovereignty. There is no question that she is a new political performer in Europe and America but very few people attempt to classify her as a threat. There was a time when Americans were mystified by the ascent of the Italian communist party that was indeed a danger for western democracy and solidarity. Italy did not go communist.Meloni is the new face of fascism although she claims that fascism has been consigned to history and that there are no grounds to pin that ideology on her party. The Italians do not seem overly preoccupied by the fact that the Brothers of Italy and its sovereign paradigm threaten the orderly expansion of the democratic order in Europe. The sovereignty does not make sense in Italy, an important country where democracy is strong. To the U.S. leadership, she is a factor that is destined to fade away. The irony is that many Italians share this judgment; nonetheless many will vote for her party in a kind of masochistic thrust, just to see how far she will go. The sad commentary is that the conventional parties did not act to rescue Italy’s savior, Premier Mario Draghi. There is hope that at the end of the day the Italian voters will not be hoodwinked by the post-fascist siren as they were by the Five Stars, the party of protest founded by a lackluster comedian. The Five Stars are well on the way to extinction. The post-fascist party will be next in due time.

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