The European People’s Party (EPP) has decided to swallow the Italian toad of the upcoming elections. Its president, Manfred Weber, has been planted in Rome this Tuesday to bless the coalition that Forza Italia will form with the far-right parties of the League and Brothers of Italy. There are still deep conversations and, outside the microphones, some aspects are worrying. But the public operation consists of unqualifiedly supporting the marriage of the affiliate of the popular in Italy with Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini and presenting itself as a guarantee of moderation through the presence of Silvio Berlusconi in the resulting artifact. Weber avoided all the time referring to the political nature of the Forza Italia partners and limited himself to repeating that the coalition program that he has read guarantees adherence to European and Atlantic values. “The program, from the European point of view, is completely from the EPP. Details will be discussed, but the start is good.”
The EPP has decided to be pragmatic and look the other way. The party has disappeared from the governments of the main economies of the euro zone. There is not much more to hold on to than the next options that open up in Italy and Spain, although it is time to excuse or avoid making a statement about parties that until recently have openly declared themselves Eurosceptics or have not hidden their promiscuity with the Kremlin and have challenged the European Union when they have been in power (in this case it would be the League). The polls give too little support for Forza Italia (it does not reach 10%) and the coalition is necessary to maintain power in Europe, where right now the EPP is oversized in the community institutions: President of the Commission (Ursula Von der Leyen ), President of Parliament (Roberta Metsola) and President of the Eurogroup (Pascal Donohoe).
Weber, who had met in the morning with Silvio Berlusconi, appeared alongside Antonio Tajani, head of Forza Italia, at a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome on Tuesday afternoon. A staging that the party that Berlusconi founded in 1993 longed for, whose secretaries dedicated the day before to calling all the international media to ensure their presence. According to the president of the EPP, it is convenient to vote for the right-wing coalition for two fundamental reasons. “Italy needs stability. And what is seen on the left does not give any idea of that for the country. Not through Enrico Letta [secretario del Partido Democrático]nor Giuseppe Conte [líder del Movimiento 5 Estrellas] or Matteo Renzi. They are disjointed. But the center-right is prepared to govern together and responsibly”, he explained. “In addition, you need experience and knowledge. And it is evident that Forza Italia is the party that has the most within the coalition”, he pointed out.
Weber ignored the ongoing tensions between the three coalition partners, who were unable to agree on the election of the President of the Republic last February. He also avoided going into the post-fascist origins of Brothers of Italy (in Germany the CDU cordoned off the xenophobic Alternative for Germany) or the authoritarian tics displayed by Matteo Salvini when he was Minister of the Interior. The immigration policy defended by the leader of the League —part of the campaign is based on the closure of ports that he already applied when he was a minister, approving decrees to the limit of the Constitution— does not respond to the principles of the European Union. “Immigration policy are two sides of the same coin. First, European and Christian solidarity and asylum principles. And then, you have to be clear that laws and regulations must be respected. In recent months we have joined forces defending borders. Even in Spain a socialist like Sánchez did it in Melilla ”, he pointed out, toughening the speech to fit it with that of his partners.
The EPP thus culminates an operation to launder the image of its partners carried out with care by the Brothers of Italy in recent months. Giorgia Meloni, president of the group that has launched forceful messages in favor of the European Union and NATO, has explicitly renounced (for the first time) the fascism that inspired the first steps of her political career and has promised that the international policy of her Executive would be the same as that of the Government of Mario Draghi. So much so, that today in Europe she is more concerned about the alliance with Matteo Salvini’s League than with Meloni herself. Salvini’s dalliances with Marine Le Pen, Alternative for Germany (they are part of the same European group) or the Poles from PiS are of much more concern. In addition, Salvini is in free fall and less and less useful.
The ground is thus paved for future pacts in other countries, such as the one that could presumably be forced to certify the PP in Spain with Vox, a partner of Brothers of Italy in Europe, before or after the general elections if Alberto Núñez Feijóo wants to reach The Moncloa.
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