In Italy, the left is paralyzed by its divisions in the face of the inexorable rise of the extreme right

In Italy, the left is paralyzed by its divisions in the face of the inexorable rise of the extreme right

The leader of the Italian League, Matteo Salvini, as a guest on the television talk show 'Porta a Porta' with a portrait of Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d'Italia party, in Rome, June 15, 2022. Italian League leader Matteo Salvini, guest of the television talk show ‘Porta a Porta’, with a portrait of Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d’Italia party, in Rome June 15, 2022. CIMAGLIA / PHOTOGRAM / ROPI / REA

The deal seemed sealed, and the leader of the Italian left, Enrico Letta, could at least boast of that success before running in the skin of the underdog for the snap general elections on 25 September. On Tuesday 2 August, after several days of stormy negotiations and two hours of conclave, the Secretary of the Democratic Party (PD) appeared smiling alongside the leaders of two centrist formations, former minister and MEP Carlo Calenda (Azione) and Benedetto Della Vedova (+ Europe), Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to formalize with a press conference the birth of the coalition aimed at countering the announced victory of the right-wing forces, led by Giorgia Meloni (Fratelli d’Italia, post-Fascist) and Matteo Salvini (League, extreme right).

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The program ? Essentially, he stuck to one name, that of retiring CEO Mario Draghi, whose three parties were the staunchest supporters until his ouster on July 21. European commitment, ecological revolution, memory of Italy’s full and complete membership of the Atlantic Alliance… The list of points of agreement between these parties was long and consistent enough to show the new group both its solidity and some recognition.

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Unfortunately, this beautiful union will not have lasted a week. On Sunday August 7th, when the ink of the treaty text was barely dry, Carlo Calenda announced that he was reconsidering his decision, due to another pact meanwhile made by Enrico Letta, this time with the Italian Left (Radical Left) , the Greens and the dissident Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Luigi Di Maio. Formed in this way, “the coalition turned into a scuffle,” argues former Industry Minister Matteo Renzi. “The Democratic Party was faced with an alternative, one it has faced many times in its history, between the reformist line and a uniting alliance and its opposite. In the end, they chose the second,” he said, explaining his decision.

The left is caught in its own trap

Accustomed to brilliant moves, the impulsive and unpredictable Carlo Calenda had made it clear in the past that he had no intention of participating in a coalition with parties that would not be unconditionally committed to the “Draghi agenda”, many of which were not unconditionally held points are considered unacceptable by the radical left. However, the former minister is too political to ignore that in the current situation, Enrico Letta simply had no choice but to try and win. In fact, today, through a very ironic reversal of history, the Italian left finds itself trapped by an electoral law it drafted five years ago out of sheer opportunism.

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