In a world covered by increasingly threatening clouds, the result of yesterday’s election in Italy weighs even more heavily, possibly dramatically, on things.
Exactly 100 years after Mussolini’s rise to power, a once-fringe party with fascist roots, the Brotherhood of Italy, is preparing to take over its leader becomes the country’s prime minister in collaboration with other similar far-right parties.
The shift of Europe’s voters towards authoritarian regimes has been underway for several years. This is especially evident in France with Marine Le Pen. But Sweden, of all countries, has elected its first far-right prime minister.
Authoritarianism took deep root in Russia, as well as, of course in Turkey, with well-known results.
This is a serious development because these movements, communism for many decades, and fascism after many decades, are ‘fishing in murky waters’. That is, when societies are troubled by intense economic and national crises. It is then that the people feel that they have nothing to lose by exploring situations and supporting leaders that in conditions of prosperity they would never try.
And that’s when the big mistakes are made.
It is hard to predict how Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party, who took it from a very small party and soared to 26% on Sunday, will govern.
It has already changed its tone somewhat, taking small but significant steps in an apparent attempt to reassure European and American public opinion.
What is certain is that everyone will be watching carefully the way she will govern.
Italy is not an arbitrary country. It has the third largest economy in Europe -but it is crippled by debt, with an economy ‘frozen in time’. So much is at stake for democracy, for Italy itself, but also for Europe.
Perhaps more than can be foreseen at this time.