Although Meloni has expressed a desire to break with a heavy past and to suppress her dream of seeing Italy outside the European Union, concerns persist, especially as in the final days of the campaign she reiterated her support for the Hungarian regime led by ultranationalist Viktor Orban. .
Giorgia Meloni now claims to be in favor of the European Union and changed her aggressive tone against the institution during election rallies.
“The party is over,” he said in mid-September in Milan, warning that if he wins, he will “defend national interests” against Brussels directives, just as “the others do.”
Giorgia Meloni during an interview with journalists in Naples – Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP
Favored to become the next prime minister, “the passionate” Italian right has for years defended the idea that the bloc respects “the sovereignty of member states” and allows them to decide on the policy that directly affects their citizens.
With this criterion, she wants to renegotiate the post-covid recovery plan, financed with almost 200 billion euros by the European Union, so that it takes into account the high cost of energy after the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
Giorgia Meloni during a campaign event in Naples, Italy – Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP
The expenditure of this gigantic resource depends, however, on the fulfillment of a series of norms and reforms, whose implementation was respected by the Mario Draghi government and which, with the eventual victory of the far-right coalition, seem to be at risk.
“We may face a serious conflict of ideas in Italy, which is the country that has benefited the most from the recovery plan and the EU”, says Nicola Nobile, from Oxford Economics.
“The risks are many. Everything will depend on which version of Meloni will lead the government: whether it is the one that attacks Europe, or the moderate one, which can maintain the current budgetary policy,” he told AFP.
Silvio Berlusconi (center), Giorgia Meloni (left) and Matteo Salvini (right) in Rome — Photo: Alessandro Bianchi/REUTERS
Italy is crumbling under a debt of more than 2.7 trillion euros, about 150% of gross domestic product (GDP), the highest in the euro zone after Greece.
In this context, the right-wing coalition calls for a “review of the rules of the Stability Pact”, suspended by the health crisis. It established a ceiling of 3% of GDP for the deficit and 60% for the debt.
While it is legitimate to modify some criteria considered obsolete, “it would be politically suicidal to flout existing rules,” says Peter Bofinger, an economics professor at the University of Würzburg.
“If Italy deviates from the European consensus” and does not respect a minimum of budgetary discipline, “not even the European Central Bank will be able to help it,” Bofinger said.
Giorgia Meloni on campaign, on September 11, 2022 – Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP
The electoral promises of the far-right coalition, formed by Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy), Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia conservatives, could have a harmful effect on the accounts. public.
“Her program is very undefined, and she doesn’t explain how to finance the measures,” Nobile points out.
If applied, the public deficit would exceed 6% of GDP in the next five years, “taking high public debt to unsustainable levels”, according to Oxford Economics.
Giorgia Meloni at a political event in Naples – Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP
The most emblematic measure is a single tax for individuals. This can range from 15 to 23% and, if approved, should cost between 20 billion and 58 billion euros, according to the Italian Public Accounts Observatory.
Added to this are other proposals on tax cuts and “fiscal peace” measures (amnesties), as well as increasing the minimum pension.
Investors fear that such a populist government will end up like that of Silvio Berlusconi, who had to step down in 2011, pressured by markets and rising debt costs.