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​The objective propagated by the populists was to change the majority of the European Parliament, and they did not succeed, as they themselves knew well from the outset; the realistically pursued objective, trying to put pressure on the public policies adopted so far by the Brussels summits, was probably successful.

We’ve discussed to Danilo Breschi Professor of History of Political Thought and Theories of Conflict at Università degli Studi Internazionali di Roma (UNINT). He has taught at Stanford University–Bing Overseas Studies Program in Florence. Breschi believes that the populists have an indirect and remote effect, but not secondary. Political analysis added, “I think that Europe will have to redefine its borders; otherwise its union will be lost.”

Below is the ILNA's interview with senior fellow of the Department of History and Society of Istituto di Politica about latest European Union Election and other issues in Green Continent in today's world. 


Q: Thank you very much for accepting our invitation, for the First question what is your impression of latest European Union Election?

A: I think that they have gone as expected, beyond and below the rhetoric and propaganda with which, on the one hand, and on the other, an attempt has been made to represent them. As usual, the mass media system aims at dramatization and not at an attempt at disenchanted and realistic analysis. In other words, it was highly predictable that a majority of popular and socialists would emerge again, even if this time the contribution of the liberals is decisive and support from the Greens, the real exploit of these elections, could also come in handy. The so-called "sovereigns", populists and euro-sceptics, could never have obtained a majority in the European Parliament. However, they have achieved excellent results in many European countries, especially in Italy, France, Hungary and the UK itself, which had to participate in the elections despite Brexit. The objective propagated by the populists was to change the majority of the European Parliament, and they did not succeed, as they themselves knew well from the outset; the realistically pursued objective, trying to put pressure on the public policies adopted so far by the Brussels summits, was probably successful. The real political novelty after these elections to the European Parliament is in fact the following: the popular (EPP - Group of the European People's Party; i.e. Christian Democrats) and the socialists (S&D - Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament), while remaining the most voted political groups, have lost a majority in the European Parliament. The Liberals of the ALDE (Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) and the Greens could therefore become an important balancing act in establishing future alliances that will shape the new face of the Strasbourg Parliament.


Q: What is the situation of League Party and the Five Stars Movement in the European Union recent election?

A: The situation is that of a complete reversal of the result of the general elections of 4 March 2018. On that occasion the Five Stars Movement obtained 32.7% of the votes, while the League obtained 17.3%. After just over a year, the ratio of forces has exactly overturned: 17.1% vs 34.3%.


Q: What effect will the populists have in the future of Europe?

A: The populists have an indirect and remote effect, but not secondary.  The executive summits of the EU, the European Council and the European Commission, will have to take into account a growing opinion that is no longer satisfied with the status quo. Willingly or unwillingly, some change of course, even if limited, will have to take place for the sake of the EU's resilience. Even in a country like Germany, the message was clear. Even if the nationalist right has not won but the Greens, the criticism of the policies of Austerity has been expressed in a clear and unequivocal way. Some rethinking will have to be done by the executive top management of the EU, otherwise there is a risk of paralysis of the entire European decision-making mechanism.


Q: What are the aftermaths of the tensions between European Union and the populist government of Italy?

A: It's too early to say yet. The vote on 26 May shows at least a couple of things: a) the current government majority is appreciated in the League Party component (34.3%) and less so in the Five Stars component (17.1%). Overall, however, the sum of the consents obtained by the two parties still exceeds 50% of the votes validly expressed; b) Italian public opinion continues not to be anti-European, in the sense of a request for a definitive break and exit from the EU, but certainly wants a lesser European grip on the economic and fiscal policies of their country. This will not be possible without an agreed revision at European level of the rules laid down in the treaties and agreements previously signed. Having said that, the first real question is whether and how long the alliance between the League Party and the Five Stars Movement can still last. It is difficult to say for sure. At first glance, it seems not to be for long. The next few weeks could be decisive in this respect: to know whether this government will arrive at least at the end of the year, or not.


Q: What would happen for Brexit? Did Theresa May made a good decision?

A: Theresa May couldn't do otherwise than resign, and maybe she should have done so sooner. Overall, Brexit is a testament to the failure of an entire political class, and I'm not just referring to the Tories, who are also the main culprits. The role of the Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, has been reduced to waiting, trusting in the fact that the suicide of the Tories would have moved the consensus on it. He sinned of inaction and lack of initiative. For their part, from David Cameron to Theresa May, passing through Boris Johnson himself, the Tories have abdicated what was a figure of British conservatism, namely realism, understood as anti-populism, and therefore the rejection of the mechanism of the referendum and the affirmation of the primacy of premiership. With anti-Europeanism, the Tories provided Nigel Farage and his associates with a Trojan horse, allowing the transformation of the Westminster system into a parliamentarianism at the mercy of the square, the media square first and foremost.


Q: What economic effects the new European Parliament can have on Italy?

A: There should be no tendency to change the economic policy line adopted so far by the EU towards Italy. Under unchanged European rules, the Italian economy will continue to feel the full weight of its public debt. It should continue to pursue deflationary policies with strong cuts in public spending. However, what I said earlier remains to be assessed. Above all, as you know, it is not the European Parliament that is decisive, but the Commission, and so we will have to see its composition. Moreover, the other strong institution of the EU is the European Council, and this is an expression of the majorities of government in each European country. Therefore, its political line changes according to what happened in internal politics. The EU is not a single sovereign, monolithic subject, but a consortium of many sovereign subjects (27 + UK).


Q: What do you think about the refugees issue in the Green Continent? What will be the Europe's reaction in the future?

A: I think that Europe will have to redefine its borders; otherwise its union will be lost. Even if it is a consortium of sovereign states and not a single sovereign state, it will sooner or later have to define its shared sovereignty. This definition requires the identification of precise and stable boundaries. What we call populism in Europe is, above all, the direct or indirect demand by a large proportion of public opinion in the individual States for a recovery of sovereignty, in other words the need to establish a control of borders and therefore also of migratory flows. If the EU as a whole does not do so, for example by finally establishing a concerted European defence system, the individual European States will do so, one after the other, changing the internal and external policy of their national governments. 


Interview by Mohammad Sharafi

Europe Refugees Brexit populists European Union Election
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