Policy Briefs

C. Bastasin: Italy should not underestimate the risk of isolation in Europe

Giorgia Meloni’s electoral victory in September 2022 was largely interpreted as a new expression of the deep-seated and decades-old discontent of Italian citizens concerning the country’s weak economy. Since the Parliamentary elections in 1994, government’s parties have regularly been defeated at the polls and the new governments have often come to power to antagonize the European trade-off that allowed to stabilize the economy through tight EU fiscal rules only at the cost of constraining the governments’ policy choices. Meloni campaigned differently: ensuring the respect of the fiscal rules while disputing Italy’s traditional preference for European “shared sovereignty” versus “national sovereignty”.

In this short brief, I analyze the coexistence of these objectives - financial orthodoxy and political autonomy - and see whether the risk of Italy’s political isolation in Europe may materialize as a consequence of the government’s European political strategy and of the country’s financial fragility. I will conclude that to avoid that financial weakness morphs into political instability, Meloni will have to avoid political isolation, find an agreement with the European authorities and EU governments, and eventually tone down her nationalist rhetoric.

Read the document