Populist government in Italy I: Immigration and Contradictions

12/6/2018 – Article published previously in the blog “USA. And Emerging Markets “of CincoDí

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said last week that his new government is “proudly populist and anti-system”, as he outlined a radical, though not specific, vision to review his immigration system, renegotiate his relationship with Europe and get closer to Russia. On immigration, Spain has just lent a hand to Italy, hosting 600 from Libya that, on June 12, 2018, the government formed by a party of the extreme right (Northern League) and another extreme left (Movement 5 Stars) pretend to rule together.

Mr. Conte said the new government “brought about a radical change that we are proud of.” The label “populism,” he said, “means being anti-system and anti-establishment.” A little naif for my taste, but I’ve been working in Italy for a week and, as in the last thirty years, I have not seen any change, either in the behavior of people or in the facades of the houses, be it Rome, Milan, Turin or Florence. Governments change, but the impetus to the postwar economy thanks to the Marshall Plan lasts to this day. Spain appears much more modern and renovated.

Conte, a little-known lawyer whose debut on the national stage was presented with a long list of problems, including the mafia, conflicts of interest, the slow health system of Italy, his Byzantine bureaucracy, low-paid work, youth unemployment , pensions, the environment, the brain drain, the overpricing of meaningless products and almost all the ills of Italian society, which date back to 1946. That, leaving aside the “little true” curriculum vitae of the prime minister …

In this regard, Conte said in the Senate: “As you know, I have no prior political experience, but I will make a populist agenda supported by the two parties that were once rival”

Flanked by his two powerful vice-premiers of the Five Star Anti-establishment Movement and the anti-immigrant Northern League, Conte himself was “grateful” for being elected as prime minister and “having renounced his legitimate personal ambitions.”

It was not clear -on June 5; Today, June 12, it is clear-who or who was the power behind the new government, but Conte stuck to the script in his first substantial speech to the country and now leads the country nominally. In Italy, things, in my opinion, are never what they seem. Conte wants to implement web-based tools for all citizens so that there is a “direct democracy”, a key principle of the Five Star Movement, which was born and developed on the web. Parliament, an earlier model of representative democracy, “will also help us,” he said. He lamented the sins of modern capitalism and social inequality. He assured the Italians and the European Union that they would stay in their “home”, Europe, and that leaving the euro “was never in dispute”.

After his speech, the stock exchange and the bonds reacted to the fact that Conte said he was “sure of our bargaining power” with Brussels, which requires him to reduce his public debt and his public deficit, something that Spain has done in the last seven years and Italy, no.

Italy, he said, will reduce its bulky public debt, but “we want to do so by increasing our wealth, not through austerity measures.” After these words, the bag sank …

Conte spoke about foreign relations, to make clear the sanctity of Italy’s relationship with the United States and NATO, “before adding:” Beware, we will be the defenders of an opening towards Russia. “More reasons for the stock market it’s a lamp …

Last Sunday, in northern Italy, George Soros, the multimillionaire fund manager and US Democratic donor, accused Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Northern League and true power in the shadows as vice president and interior minister, of receiving money. From Russia. Soros did not offer any proof (except that Salvini likes to wear a shirt with Putin’s face stamped) and Salvini, who does not hide his admiration for President Vladimir Putin, has long denied the accusation.


Conte could not shed light on how he would prevent immigrants from leaving Italy or expel those already living in the country. The first test of fire has been the ship with 600 of them that Spain has hosted on June 12, 2018.

On the migratory crisis. Conte said that the costs of immigration should be distributed equally and that richer countries, such as Germany, should provide more funds to deal with the problem. For this, he said “I have had more recent conversations with the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel”. The same one that now faces the fury of its public opinion, because, having allowed to enter freely and without control to one million two hundred thousand Muslim immigrants, mostly Arabs, now it is on the table with rapes, robberies and terrorist attacks Islamists

Conte reiterated one of his favorite focuses of the election campaign: according to him, “many immigrants are taking advantage of the system to make a profit. We are going to stop the business of immigration that has grown disproportionately, under the umbrella of false solidarity, “he said.

This visibly pleased Salvini, the interior minister, who was sitting on his left. Ignorance of immigrants has been Salvini’s main problem. Last Sunday, he visited the immigration reception center in Sicily and said, speaking of immigrants from Tunisia, “these immigrants do not flee from wars, epidemics, famines or pestilence: Tunisia is exporting us convicts”. These comments led the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday – yesterday – to summon the Italian ambassador in protest because, over the weekend, shipwrecks killed a hundred migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, which provoked the reaction of the immigrants living in Italy, who said they were being exploited and even treated as slaves in Italy. Salvini remained in his thirteenth. In the Senate, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi put his finger on the wound, making it clear that “you, Mr. Salvini, today is the power, the government, the establishment.”