Right-wing governments in the EU: On the rise

Hungary and Poland have long been governed by the right, now Sweden and probably Italy are joining them. But the alarm bells in the EU are not ringing.

A boy stands at a barrier with a flag

Meloni's Fratelli d'Italia party has never distanced itself from fascism Photo: Jean-Marc Caimi, Valentina Piccinni

BRUSSELS taz | Do you remember the excitement when that left Syriza party took over the government in Greece in January 2015? Germany put on the spiked helmet, the European Union panicked. One crisis meeting followed the next in Brussels, and Berlin called for the country to be kicked out of the euro. Only when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras backed down and accepted a tough austerity program did the situation calm down.

An example was made of Greece, since then the left in Europe has been on the defensive. Things are very different on the right-hand side of the party spectrum. Nationalists and right-wing populists are on the rise in several countries.

Hungary and Poland have been governed by the right for years. Sweden was also recently added: last Sunday, the centre-left government constellation was voted out there The right-wing bloc will have the majority in parliament, the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats achieved a record result. And now the worst case scenario is looming: if everything is not deceptive, it will be on Sunday in Italy the post-fascists take power.

The far-right Fratelli d'Italia party and its leader Giorgia Meloni have never distanced themselves from fascism and Mussolini. Now they want to form the government together with Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

It stays calm

But this time no alarm bells are ringing in the European Union – or if they do, they are damn quiet. Social Democrats and Greens in the European Parliament find it "strange" that the conservatives are making deals with the post-fascists. But they don't stand in their way. Although Berlusconi has already plunged the EU into a crisis. At the height of the euro crisis, he was forced to withdraw. And now Brussels is simply ignoring the right-wing danger.

That may be because the leading conservatives, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) and the head of the largest parliamentary group, Manfred Weber (CDU), are keeping their fingers crossed for Berlusconi. Apparently they are not ashamed that a member of their EPP party family could become the stirrup holder for the post-fascists. They mobilize to the left, they have no problems with a right shift.

Another explanation is that would-be Prime Minister Meloni has at least verbally committed to the EU. During the election campaign, she asserted that Italy wanted to remain a reliable partner under her leadership. However, Meloni also stated that "the fun will soon be over". “Italy will also start defending its national interests. Just like the others are doing in search of common solutions.”

If it is serious, Europe risks relapsing into selfishness and nationalism at a time when the European Union is bound by Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine and weakened by economic sanctions.

Another euro crisis?

But that's not the only danger. After a shift to the right, Italy could trigger a new euro crisis. The country is heavily indebted and is struggling with rising interest rates. One wrong word and the fuse burns.

The biggest problem, however, is that the balance in the EU is shifting and decision-making is becoming increasingly difficult. So far, Italy – along with Germany and France – has been a mainstay.

In the future, it could become an obstacle, like Poland. Or to the insecure cantonist like Hungary. In any case, it's over with the familiar trio from Berlin, Paris and Rome, who traveled together in the special train to Kyiv.

It is still unclear what course Meloni and Berlusconi will take in foreign policy. But EU diplomats are concerned that the right-wing might relax their tough line against Russia and relax the sanctions.

However, they do not dare to say so openly. Loud warnings were given of Alexis Tsipras, the leftist. Giorgia Meloni, on the right, is kicking softly. Is the EU blind in the right eye? It looks like it.

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