GIS Dossier: The Italian case

Italy’s new prime minister and his leading strategist, Lega leader Matteo Salvini
Jan. 17, 2019: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (L) leads a popular antiestablishment cabinet in Rome, but Lega leader Matteo Salvini (R) is its real strategist (source: dpa)
  • Rule by two anti-establishment parties makes Italy unique among major EU members
  • This new configuration could become a template for other countries
  • Italy has avoided immediate financial crisis, but business as usual has its own risks
  • The EU could face disruption, but also a convergence of populists and bureaucrats

Is Italy a weak link in Europe? Such fears have been often expressed in the past – witness Italy’s many changes of government and strong communist party in the Cold War era – yet nothing approaching a collapse occurred. Far from being a Trojan horse, Italy was one of the more solid members of the Western alliance, for all the surface turbulence of its political scene.

Today the Italian experiment with a left-right populist government, formed from an unlikely alliance between the leftist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-immigrant, nationalist Lega (formerly the Northern League), is raising similar concerns, sending “ripples throughout the European Union and financial markets,” as GIS expert Enrico Colombatto wrote in an October 2018 report.

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