Popularity Of Italy’s “Populist Government” Is Growing Amid Conflict With EU Bureaucracy

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Popularity Of Italy's "Populist Government" Is Growing Amid Conflict With EU Bureaucracy

FILE IMAGE: dw.com

Italy has been ruled by the government of the “populists” for over 100 days. The government has record popularity due to its frequent opposition to Brussels on migration issues, among others. The ruling alliance’s grand promises have also rallied people, led to short-term success, which might not last.

As of September 15th, close to 62% of Italians approve the governing alliance of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, according to a poll by la Repubblica. That was the highest level since the alliance assumed office on June 1st.

On September 27th, Conte and his Finance Minister Giovanni Tria presented the Italian budget for 2019. The Italian administration said it would target a budget deficit of 2.4 percent of gross domestic product next year, much higher than the previous government’s aspiration. The ruling League and Five Star Movement said they would use the extra borrowing to lift current spending, including lowering the pension age.

Italy’s fiscal plan was met with skepticism from the European Union. The Dutch finance minister, Wopke Hoekstra, said he was “somewhat less optimistic.” Juncker, president of the European Commission, went much further. “We have to do everything to avoid a new Greece — this time an Italy — crisis,” he said.

Juncker also warned that Italy would not get special treatment, because doing that for everyone “would mean the end of the euro.”

Italy has seen a 1.5% rise in GDP, however the EU as well as experts warn that an Italian debt crisis is waiting to happen. As soon as the new budget was announced the Milan stock exchange fell almost 4%, with trading in Banco BPM bank stocks suspended after they tumbled nearly 11%.

The European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici warned that Italy was “not respecting the rules” and reducing its “explosive” debt. Its debt stands at 131% of national output.

Mr Moscovici said servicing such a large debt meant that every euro spent on it was “one euro less on roads, one euro less on education and one euro less on social justice.” What’s more, he was “persuaded that it’s not in the interest of Italy and the Italians” to get into more debt. “Spending your way out of economic trouble ends up working against those who do it,” he continued. “And it’s always the people who pay the price in the end.”

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio however, had nothing but praise for Italy’s new budget law. “We, in a decisive manner, with this budget law, will have abolished poverty.”

Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, the respective party leaders of the League and the Five Star Movement (5SM), who are the de facto shot callers for the Italian government, both deputy ministers under Conte had significant promises before being elected.

These notably included:

  • A guaranteed basic income for poor families of about €780 a month
  • Tax reform for rates of just 15% and 20%, down from 23%-43%, which could cost up to €50bn
  • Abolishing plans to raise retirement age over several years, and setting minimum pensions

Currently, with this budget they are hard at work in achieving all three among the promises, however, as experts and the EU warn this will be a short-term populist decision. A decision that would more than likely lead to a crisis in the long-term.

These promises and apparent actions, plus the government “standing up” to Brussels, which warns Italy to tighten its belt has made it popular among the public. However, that popularity may come around to bite the populists.

The Italian populists are also not afraid to veto additional sanctions on Moscow, as they did last week when the EU tried to put a Crimean politician on the continent’s blacklist.

In late June, Conte held up the EU Summit on Immigration until his colleagues agreed on a migration policy that lessens burden on Italy.

The populists are threatening to leave the EU, unless their frequent demands are not always fulfilled. The Italian government has discovered that attacking the EU’s bureaucrats is a winning political strategy. It is unlikely that Italy would depart from the EU, however it would take time for things to settle and for Brussels to possibly hit back.

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  • Brother Ma

    “Populists” is now used by the globalists as a dirty word. Not in my book! Populists are that because their policies are popular with the people. Bravo!

    As for preventing an Italian-crisis? It already happened,the Eu already gave Italy special help over above what was given to Greece. Who are they kidding? Changing the narrative are we,Eu?

    • Ste

      Italy pays to EU 15 billion/year and 50% of that are used to delocalize the Italian factories in eastern countries or buy USA weapons to expand NATO, in addition Italy was used as the only port to receive all the immigration to EU, Is this the help that EU provided to Italy you are talking of?

      • John Whitehot

        “delocalize the Italian factories in eastern countries”

        not all.

        FIAT, the largest producer of cars of the country has moved most of its production in the USA.

        • Sinbad2

          Fiat has always made strange decisions. When they bought Alfa Romeo, they deliberately destroyed the company, because when Alfa started making the cheap Suds, Fiat saw it as a threat. Recently they sold Ferrari, a small company that builds less than 200 cars a year, but makes more profit than Chrysler.

          Because Fiat owns Chrysler they inherited a lot of American factories, but seem to be moving into Latin America. I often wondered why Fiat bought Chrysler, until I realized it was Chrysler’s presence in Latin America that they were really interested in.

          They also do a lot of joint ventures and their operations in India and China are the fastest growing.

      • Brother Ma

        Greece also has been flooded as a port to enter the EU. Yes,i know a lot of money floods back to the EU from Italian taxpayers but your country still had its banks supported. Greece was made the sacrificial lamb for the EU.

        I do not support the EU at present. All countries must have their sovereignty back and EU should go back to being a customs union.

        The smart countries like the UK and Denmark never changed their currency. The stupid countries Italy,greece,spain,Ireland and Portugal etc did.

        • Sinbad2

          The idea that you can have a common currency, but individual governments was always doomed.
          The Euro is a very valuable tool for northern European countries, especially Germany. A German Mark would have a higher value than the Lira, German exports would be curtailed by a high value Mark, and Italy would trade its way out of debt in the usual manner.

          The EU started life as a common market, a real free trade agreement, which was a fantastic idea. However it has morphed into a northern European currency manipulation scam.

          • Brother Ma

            Yes . Exactly. Germany cheapened its products and Italy and Greece actually made their cost of living higher. The Germans thus benefitted. They already could sell on quality now they could actually sell more on cost as well. Greece ,Italy ,Spain etc lost the one advantage they had collectively;cheaper cost of production.

    • Sinbad2

      I agree, but also disagree, democracy is supposedly government by the people, but a lot of people simply do not understand the issues faced by Government.

      The people elected Trump, which is of course better than Clinton, but that’s where the stupidity of voters comes into play.
      According to most Americans, there are only 2 choices, but of course that isn’t true.
      But try and explain to an American the value of minor parties is almost impossible.
      I have seen both major parties in Australia totally change their position, because people started voting for minor parties.

    • John Brown

      Populist means they are popular and get the most votes the essence of democracy. The EU shows its true face of dictatorship as part of the racist supremacist global Jewish slave empire dictatorship in saying populism is bad.

      • John Whitehot

        populism is better than goodism nowadays, in the sense that most of the hypocrisy is with the latter.

  • John Whitehot

    “the EU as well as experts warn that an Italian debt crisis is waiting to happen”

    Debt crisis happen when the “markets” (read – jewish finance) decide that a democratically elected government does not act on their interests, which are normally diametrically opposed to those of the population.

    Italy has made a grave mistake in internationalizing its (huge) debt.
    The only thing that they should do now is to reclaim it.

  • Criticalthinker101

    I’m reading Yanis Varoufukis’ book, Adults in The Room! LOL! !!!!

  • iosongasingsing

    Italy has been destroyed by the US and European allies. Let us not forget that it was the 5th world power and in the world it had the role that China has today. Huge investments in the USSR, Yugoslavia, Iran (1953 crisis Italy buys oil at Mossadeq) support for Gaddafi, Nasser, Saddam, Tunisia, Algeria and Palestinians and all in spite of French and British ex colonialists. It was clear that the US Jews along with the French and the British, as soon as the USSR counterweight had finished, would have made it pay for it. Now there is a government that re-creates the Middle Eastern strand of Craxi and Andreotti of the 80s and tries to re-invest in Africa and Russia.

  • Andrea Catalano

    The EU is screwed.