France will work with the future Italian government, expected to be led by far-right Giorgia Meloni while monitoring respect for European values, French Secretary of State for Europe Laurence Boone told EURACTIV France in an interview on Monday (26 September).
Read the original French article here.
Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Fratelli d’Italia, has claimed victory with 26% of the votes in the Italian general snap election on Sunday (25 September) – ahead of her closest rival, centre-left leader Enrico Letta.
With this win, Meloni’s right-wing alliance, which includes Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia, will take control of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
Meloni herself is set to step in the prime minister’s shoes as President Sergio Mattarella will likely task her with forming a government in the coming weeks.
“The Italian voters have chosen, and we have to respect the democratic choices,” Boone said, pointing to the Quirinal Treaty that frames Franco-Italian relations, which she added organises “not only relations between administrations, but also between the business community, civil society and schools and universities.”
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Strong EU institutions
On working with Italy’s new government at the EU level, Boone said, “we have strong European institutions within which we will be able to work on key issues such as support for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.”
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Meloni’s party, which received many more votes than its right and far-right allies, has taken strong positions in support of Ukraine and favoured sanctions against Russia. Her party also defends Italy’s participation in NATO.
But she has not always had this stance as in 2018, she made comments in support of Russian intervention in Syria, along with Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, and the government of Bashar al-Assad.
However, her main allies, Lega and Forza Italia, appear to have differing views. Salvini said he wants to lift sanctions on Russia, and during the electoral campaign, he repeatedly said that “the sanctions should stop Russia, and instead of punishing the Russians, are punishing the Italians”.
Meanwhile, Berlusconi told Italian TV last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine to replace President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration with “decent people”, but efforts were thwarted by resistance “which was fed by arms of all kinds from the west.”
Meanwhile, Boone said that France would judge the new Italian government “on its actions” and would wait and see “what is really implemented” by Meloni as there could be differences between campaign speeches and actions,” she added.
“If you look at the history of the statements of these [far-right] parties, their rhetoric has changed a lot in the last decades” on EU issues like the single currency or EU membership.
Indeed, most ‘mainstream’ far-right parties, including the victors in Italy’s election, no longer propose leaving the euro or the EU.
But Boone hinted their guard is up and said, “we will remain very attentive to the respect of European values.”
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[Edited by Alice Taylor]