2018 Italian Elections: An Overview (Part Two)
Partito Democratico (Democratic Party)
Partito Democratico is the party that has run the last two governments with a fleeting chariot. In a little more than a year, Paolo Gentiloni, former Minister of Foreign Affairs between February 2014 and December 2016, has managed to create a credible and stable government whose leadership enjoys far more public support than Renzi’s previous government.
However, the silent but ever-present internal rivalry between Italy’s two last Prime Ministers risks to increase even more the divisions within the Left, which has already witnessed the creation of Liberi e Uguali (Free and Equal) founded by two former leaders of the Democratic Party, namely D’Alema and Bersani, who have separated themselves from the main Italian left-wing political force. Nonetheless, in the last four years under the command of the Left-wing main Italian party, the country has finally been able to come out of recession by reaching a GDP growth of +1,7% in 2017. Moreover, due to Brexit and the uncertain Franco-German axis to re-launch the European project, Italy, being all in all the 3rd biggest economy in Europe, can aspire to acquire a central and leading role in the EU. Let’s analyse the party’s programme in the case it was to lead the next legislature.
Foreign Policy and the European Union
The strong support for the European Union has surely represented the Democratic Party’s battle horse in these elections’ campaign. Nonetheless, both Gentiloni and Renzi have clashed with the EU over the controversial and hotly debated Maastricht’s parameters of the public debt to GDP ratio, fixed at 60%, and the general budget deficit, which cannot exceed 3%
In the long-term, the party aims to bring about the creation of the United States of Europe. In this light, it proposes the establishment of Minister of Finance for the EU, and to achieve more democratic legitimacy of the EU institutions, it aims to introduce the translational lists in the European Parliament, collectively voted by the European citizens, and the direct election of the Commission’s President. Moreover, its objective is to create Eurobond, a system of public debts collectively guaranteed by the Union. Concerning shared fiscal policies, it intends to strengthen the Union’s social and redistributive policies through funds for the unemployed managed at the EU level. The party intends to continue the negotiations that move in the direction of a European Defense Army. Furthermore, to foster a stronger sense of citizenship, the party launches the plan for national and European civil service.
The Democratic Party supports the ongoing military presence and intervention in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In foreign policy, nonetheless, the Democratic Party affirms that Italy has to closely cooperate with the EU, identified as the world’s promoter of peace, stability and democracy.
The economic plan of the Democratic Party centres around the reduction of taxes and fiscal facilitation for many social groups. The aim is to simplify the Italian fiscal system and guarantee the reduction of both direct and direct taxes on the population and small and medium-size companies. The party proposes a monthly income for families with children up to 18 years old, and more funds to fight poverty through the income of social inclusion, already introduced by Gentiloni’s government. On top of that, the proposed minimum salary per hour is set at 9 or 10 €. Moreover, the party seems to focus less than others on the hoary Italian problem of pensions. Instead, its most innovative proposal is a new system of social security, namely the “pension of guarantee”, a minimum pension of 750€/month to be given to the ones that, once reached the pensionable age, had already contributed fiscally for 20 years. The projections of the party’s public expenditure, according to the Observatory of Public Spending of the Università Cattolica based in Milan, has estimated that the public debt/GDP ratio, currently stable at 130%, will decrease to 118% in 2022 and be further reduced to 100% in 2029. Public expenditure is then stabilised and not increased to attain an affordable welfare system, sustained by common European fiscal and social policies. A great emphasis is placed on the need to implement a green and environment-friendly system of production centred on the use of renewable energies.
Under Gentiloni’s government leadership, Italy has witnessed a steady decrease in the number of immigrants entering the country. This result has been achieved through an agreement reached with the Libyan authorities, in other words, militia groups, to curb the flow of refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean. This policy, pursued by the Minister of Internal Affairs Marco Minniti, has been highly contested, as many organisations have denounced the deplorable conditions and environments in which migrants live in, often forced to live in detention camps and prisons by the human traffickers. Moreover, Minniti has pursued a hard-line on humanitarian organisations, accused of profiting from the movement of these people and colluding with smugglers. Minniti’s solution to immigration, however, is not mentioned in the programme.
Despite all of this, the party is not taking strong stances on the issue and immigration emerges as one of its weakest campaign’s point. Generally speaking, it promotes more cooperation to tackle the refugee humanitarian crisis at the European rather than national level. The share of this burden, however, can only be achieved by reforming the Dublin Treaty, which imposes the analysis of asylum seeking solely in the first country that is reached. Moreover, it advocates the scheme of European funds for countries that are not willing to accept a certain quota of immigrants. Nevertheless, multilateral accords with the African countries to block the entry of more people and the repatriations of illegal immigrants are not cited in the party’s programme.
Defence and Security
As immigration, defence and security are not the strongest points of the party. Regarding internal security, it proposes to hire 10,000 new law enforcement agent, including policemen, Carabinieri, financial police and firefighters. The party demands the EU the suspension of the Maastricht’s fiscal parameters for “security”, allowing the government to spend in public deficit in this sector.
Prime Minister candidate: Paolo Gentiloni (incumbent PM) or Matteo Renzi (former PM)
Prediction of votes’ percentage: 22-24 %
Più Europa con Emma Bonino (More Europe with Emma Bonino)
The fresh More Europe Party was founded by the leader of the Italian radicals Emma Bonino in November 2017. When asked to define the ideological roots of her party, the charismatic leader Emma Bonino states that Radicals, from which she emerged in Italian politics, “are too right-wing for the Left and too left-wing for the Right”. Despite this uncertainty, the calibre of Bonino’s national, European and international political career is beyond any doubt. Bonino’s moral integrity and the high degree of reliability of her personality are the main reasons that explain the widespread consensus enjoyed by her party, especially among university students residing abroad. More Europe’s share of votes will probably amount to 6/7 %, but surprises are waiting behind the corner. Here is More Europe’s programme, point by point.
Foreign Policy & the EU
As the name clearly indicates, Bonino ‘s parry is the most pro-European in the Italian political spectrum. As the Democratic Party, the long-term and most ambitious goal is the creation of the United States of Europe. Accordingly, the vast majority of competences and powers that currently rest upon the single members’ governments, such as defence, borders’ control, fiscal and social policy, diplomacy, are to be conferred upon the EU. Indeed, it is advocated for the EU to acquire the function of a macroeconomic regulator.
There is a strong support for the European economic policies and the Maastricht Treaty’s parameters aforementioned. In this light, to meet these standards, the freezing of public spending, until economic growth proceeds at a pre-2008 crisis pace, is considered the only viable solution. The three main points for the economic plan are the reduction of public debt/GDP ratio and policies aimed to foster sustainable productivity. Moreover, the proposal to create the European Monetary Fund is advanced, whose decisions are to be taken by the within the QMV framework. The re-structuring of the EU budget is seen as essential to pursue common fiscal policies and shared economic plans to finance collective policies on immigration, defence, investments for education, research and technological innovations. One of the pillars of this federal economic policy is the establishment of the single market for capitals (CMU), through which investments flow freely across the Union, moving the capital in less developed areas. Just as the Democratic Party, More Europe proposes the reduction of taxes on workers’ incomes and companies, which would allow the reduction of the state’s expenditure and the redistribution of wealth from the public to the private sector. The need to tackle the world’s global challenge of climate change is also much stressed. Italy, it is said, has to curb carbon emissions completely by 2025 and use 55% of renewable energy by 2030.
Civil Rights and Personal Freedoms
The Italian Radical party, from which Emma Bonino comes from, has always been the most prominent party to fight for the respect of individual human rights.
In this regard, some of the main proposals comprise:
The legalisation of light drugs, such as marijuana
The right to citizenship for the sons of immigrants, who live, grow up, study their life in Italy, according to the ius culturae’s scheme.
The right to euthanasia, namely the free choice choose of a person in a vegetative state to die, as expressed in his/her biological testament
The institution a national agency that supervises the respect of human rights, to which Italy committed by signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
An open and accepting attitude for immigrants that come to the country. To better integrate the newcomers into the Italian job market, the Bossi-Fini law needs to be revised and changed.
The reception mechanism needs to be ameliorated with the exclusive adoption of the Protection System for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (SPRAR), which aims to support and protect asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants who fall under other forms of humanitarian protection. Moreover, better plans to promote education and formation for jobs are to be carried out, also through European funds. The Dublin scheme is to be reformed in the wider context of burden-sharing and redistribution at the EU level Finally, safer channels and humanitarian corridors have to be guaranteed to the refugees fleeing their countries.
Defence & Security
The plan for the creation of a European Defence Army is extremely emphasized. The abolition of all nuclear weapons, on which Bonino has always campaigned and fought for, is also a strong point. Therefore, More Europe promotes the dismantlement of U.S. military bases with a nuclear arsenal in European countries. Nonetheless, the rejection of war as a legitimate means to achieve objectives, as stated by the Italian Constitution, is not mentioned in the programme. Bonino’s approval of the 2004 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are well-known and represent still nowadays a matter of controversy for the credibility of Bonino as a leftist politician.
Prime Minister Candidate: Emma Bonino
Prediction of votes’ percentage: 5-6 %