Skip to main content

Matteo Salvini, Leader of Lega political party speaks to the press after a new day of meetings with Italian President on formation of the new government Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Will Italy’s Populists Upend Europe?

After months of pressure to reach a compromise, Italy's Five Star Movement and League party have formed a new government. The fear now is that their administration will establish a new template for left- and right-wing populists throughout Europe to challenge pro-EU reformers.

LONDON – “They are trying to stop us with the usual blackmail of rising spreads, falling stock markets, and European threats,” wrote Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s League party, on his Facebook page. “This time,” Salvini insisted, “change is coming.”

Now he has formed a new government with the leader of the populist Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio. And, as Salvini’s statement suggests, the coalition between M5S and the League could represent a new Euroskeptic movement capable of exacting revenge on financial markets, the European Union, and German fiscal hawks.

In fact, Salvini has already declared “round two” in the larger battle between Italian populism and the European establishment. Round one ended in November 2011, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy leveraged financial-market concerns to force former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi out of office. And since then, populist Euroskepticism has been on the rise, particularly in Italy, owing to its frontline position in the migrant and refugee crisis.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/aa6fkOv;
  1. benami155_ Ilia Yefimovichpicture alliance via Getty Images_netanyahu Ilia Yefimovich/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

    The Last Days of Netanyahu?

    Shlomo Ben-Ami

    In Israel's recent parliamentary election, voters stopped Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's leadership of the country toward xenophobic theocracy. But Israel now faces a period of political deadlock, and it remains to be seen whether Netanyahu really will be politically sidelined.

    2
  2. oneill66_getty images_world Getty Images

    The Return of Fiscal Policy

    Jim O'Neill

    With interest rates at record lows and global growth set to continue decelerating, there has rarely been a better time for governments to invest in infrastructure and other sources of long-term productivity growth. The only question is whether policymakers in Germany and elsewhere will seize the opportunity now staring them in the face.

    1

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions