Over this past weekend, Italians went back to the polls for the latest round of municipal elections across the nation; these were in fact the first elections to take place since the nationalist League and the populist Five Star formed their governing coalition, and as the results keep coming in, one thing is absolutely clear: the nationalist right League is now the premier political party in Italy.
The election involved mayoral candidates in about 760 towns and cities, which included 20 provincial capitals, which together constitute about 10 percent of the population in Italy. Now what’s so significant here is that most of the major cities up for grabs were represented by the center-left Democratic Party; We have to remember that after the center-left was decimated in the last national election back on March 4th, the only solace they had was that they still controlled many mayoral positions of a number of major cities. Well, now even that has been taken away from them. The League and its rightwing coalition came in and just trounced the center-left. They took control of the largest city in play, Sicily’s Catania, as well as Vicenza in the northeast. They took over city after city in just this mass turn to the political right among Italy’s municipalities.
This is not the first time this has happened. This is actually the second year in a row when Italy has turned to the nationalist political right in their mayoral elections. Last year, Italy’s rightwing just trounced their center-left rivals; The right took over 15 of Italy’s largest cities, and overall gained 25, winning a total of nearly 80 cities. That election alone made the political right the single most dominant coalition in Italy, and it is only increased from there. They of course got a combined 37 percent of the vote in the national elections on March 4th, and now so-called far-right League is dominating this latest round of mayoral elections.
What is so interesting here is that while The League dominated these mayoral elections, the populist party Five Star suffered some major setbacks. They seriously underperformed; for example, they didn’t win any of the seats up for grabs in Rome, which has a Five Star mayor. Indeed, The League’s rightwing coalition actually wrested a number of cities away from Five Star in what has turned out to be just this mass show of political strength. So all of this is to say that just a bit more than three months after their March 4th national election, the so-called far-right continues to grow in support, and it does appear that The League is even beginning to dominate Italian politics.
So, why did The League do so well in this recent round of elections while its coalition partner Five Star did not? What is going on here?
I think there is a reason for this, outside of, bad candidates or other variables like that. I think there’s a key reason why the nationalist party, the so-called far-right party is beginning to dominate while the populist party is waning a bit. What we have to remember is that scholars have determined that what’s driving this mass move to the nationalist right throughout Europe are three major insecurities that the right is providing real solutions for, and this is because these three insecurities derive from globalism, the opposite of nationalism, and globalism’s detrimental effects on the nation-state. Globalists have long touted that the age of the nation-state is over; that with the advent of transnational corporations and electronic money and international political organizations such as the WTO and the IMF and the EU, nation-states are basically becoming irrelevant.
However, with all of that confident rhetoric, these globalist theorists overlooked the destructive nature of globalism, in terms of how it erodes the three main securities that nation-states brought to our lives. Nation-states promised border security which gave us a basic protection from foreign and hostile invasion; they promised economic security to provide us with opportunities at a decent living so we can provide for our families and our neighbors and our communities; and nation-states provided cultural security, where we can celebrate our customs, and traditions, and religion as the primary means by which we are bound together as a people with a common meaning and purpose, and a common sense of right and wrong, a moral foundation by which our society can flourish. And of course this is nothing new; the Greek city-states all attempted something very much like this.
With the advent of globalism, these three securities all began to erode. Globalism destroyed border security particularly in Europe through the insistence on immigration quotas from the Middle East; it destroyed economic security with the financial crisis of 2008 and mass unemployment, particularly among the youth; and the globalist EU has destroyed European traditions and customs by adopting secular human rights and multiculturalism and free markets that replace traditional identities with narcissistic consumer-based lifestyle values. In fact, these secular globalist liberals actually believe that borders are now racist and nativist, that economic protectionism is inconsistent with a sound monetary and inflation policy, and that our traditions and customs and religions are inherently oppressive, and bigoted, and homophobic.
So, how does all of this apply to Italy? Five Star, being a populist party, addresses really only ONE of these insecurities; the economic insecurity. This is what is driving populist movements; restoring a sense of economic security by taking financial power away from the political and economic elites who have sold out our nations to transnational interests and for personal benefit But populist movements alone can leave the whole issues of border security and cultural security out of their equation. THIS is why when people say to me that Bernie Sanders would have won the presidency if he were the Democrat nominee I tell them that they couldn’t be more wrong; because Sanders may have been strong in terms of addressing economic insecurities, though his solution was a socialistic one which I do not buy, he was radically weak when it came to border security and cultural security. He was your typical secular liberal who loved open borders and hated our Christian customs and values and traditions.
THIS is why, I believe, The League is doing so well and Five Star is suffering a bit: The League addresses ALL THREE INSECURITIES. Being a nationalist populist rightwing party, provides solutions to all three insecurities. They want to halt all illegal immigration, and they are effectively doing so as we saw with their recent turning away of the refugee boat filled with young men, interestingly enough, not families, not women and children. They want to halt illegal immigration and indeed reject the Brussels-based immigration quotas. The League wants to take power away from financial elites and restore national sovereignty over their financial institutions. THAT is what made the president of Italy so nervous, by the way, he was afraid that Matteo Salvini’s administration would eventually reject the Euro and reinstate a national currency, which will most likely happen eventually. And The League celebrates the culture, customs, and traditions that make Italy Italy, that secures a sense of unique Italian identity and way of life. Addressing ALL THREE INSECURITIES is absolutely the reason of existence for The League. I mean, The League started as a northern Italian, anti-Rome movement that sought to protect the culture, customs, and traditions of the Italian people as over against the globalists in Rome. Whereas Five Star frankly is not there yet. They are certainly anti-elite, which is a good thing; that is what characterizes all populist movement; they are thoroughly anti-elite but immigration is not necessarily front and center of their political policies; same with maintaining the culture, customs, and traditions of Italy; it is just not a key distinctive of Five Star.
This is why I believe the future belongs to the political right; it is the nationalist, populist, and traditionalist right that offers real solutions to these very real insecurities, while the political left has basically nothing. It has warmed over globalism on the one hand or just socialist economic. programs on the other, but that nevertheless leave border and cultural insecurities unresolved. And so, these three insecurities that are clearly being felt by Italian voters are awakening a nationalist populist traditionalist right that I believe will continue to dominate Italy, and indeed much of Europe, in the years ahead.
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