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Italy’s Elections Are a Warning to Us All | The Intersection

Across the ocean as I write this, Italy is experiencing the consequences of their snap election caused by the summer 2022 Italian Government Crisis, which could significantly change not only the nation, but the balance of power across the European Union. While there are many issues at the heart of this election, including the European energy crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, the biggest issue on the world stage is the continuation of a pattern of far-right populist parties rising up in politics.

We’ve seen it several times throughout the past few years — Donald Trump, a former U.S. president, and his wing of the Republican Party. Marine Le Pen, a French politician, came very close to beating President Emmanuel Macron in the most recent French presidential elections. The Sweden Democrats party, who, in the 2022 Swedish elections, increased their number of seats in the Swedish Riksdag and now have the second most seats, after the Social Democrats.

These are just a few examples of right-wing populist groups rising up in the Western world, and the Italian elections have gone the way most analysts have predicted. A party with roots in neo-fascism now has the majority party in the Italian parliament, and Italy has joined the groups of countries where populism is on the rise.

Typically, far-right populism gets increased support when people are dissatisfied, which in turn makes people look for radical change within the government. There have been incidents of left-wing parties rising up due to these factors, a notable example being the Communist Party of Russia which rose in the Russian Revolution of 1917, but in more recent history, right-wing parties have found favor among the dissatisfied population much more than left-wing parties.

Haley Alvarez-Lauto | Graphic Artist

This would explain why Italy’s Fratelli d’Italia party, the right-wing party which won the election, has increased its percentage of the vote from 4% five years ago to approximately 25% now. Italy has been facing economic problems due to the ongoing energy crisis and increased debt, causing much concern. While former Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has often been praised for his handling of the COVID economic recovery, ultimately, energy prices skyrocketed and he was accused of not being able to control this.

As a result, the 5-Star Movement party, an anti-establishment party that has made its way into the mainstream, withdrew their support from his coalition, risking billions in EU funds to Italy and leading to the government collapsing in July of this year.

Italy’s economic problems are of paramount importance in this election, not only because right-wing candidate Giorgia Meloni has advocated for the termination of the eurozone, but also because they serve as an important warning to the rest of the world. The vast effects of economic instability can significantly alter a country’s political structure. The same economic problems that led to the collapse of the Italian government this past summer are also what allowed a party with roots in neo-fascism to flourish.

Meloni, while denying that she is fascist, has said the same slogan Mussolini used and that she believed Mussolini was a “good politician” in her youth. This is a very dangerous pattern that has been occuring the past few years, and it is about to come to a head in Italy.

As Italy has elected Meloni and Fratelli d’Italia into the majority in parliament, watch what they will do in the coming years because this is the most right-wing party to have a majority in the Italian parliament since World War II. If the government goes unchecked — which, considering their close relationships with Vladimir Putin — they likely will to some extent, Italy will give the world a good idea of what it looks like to live under a modern neo-fascist society.

History has repeated itself throughout time, and history might be about to repeat itself again. The world has a choice: learn from past mistakes and be vigilant in preventing them for the future, or let history continue to repeat itself. It is looking like the second choice is going to win, so with that, we can get a pretty good guess for what the near future looks like: a potential return of fascism.

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