– In your opinion, can righ-wing politicians, which blame refuges almost for all problems, now lose their popularity in Italy?
– Or could Matteo Salvini or other European right-wing populists have a good opportunity to politically benefit from this crisis?
Far right, populist parties are presently in a sort of ‘limbo’, as far as their political chances are concerned. On one side the immigration issue is no longer a national drama, so they cannot profit from exploitation of people’s fears and anxieties, and on the other the current government coalition, especially the prime minister Conte, scores extremely high popularity rates (70%), because he is the ‘face’ of who is trying hard to fight the COMMON enemy of coronavirus and to save Italy and the health of Italians. Salvini is losing his primacy in the news and in the public debate, in spite of generous attempts by his media managers to create ‘events’ so to have his voice heard publicly. So, yes, there is what I think a temporary fall of popularity of right-wing opposition forces. They are pressing the government to let them enter into the ‘war room’ to share decisions. It’s an understandable step to avoid being furtherly marginalized, especially when the coronavirus war will end, they want to share some merits to spend politically in the near future.
On the other side the country-based road to tackle the coronavirus emergency, vis-à-vis a EU almost speechless (even if it finally passed measures to allow state to spend beyond the strict budget limits), has reinforced the single countries’ selfishness and autarchy. But, note that all are now tending to introduce more severe restrictions – the Italian way – and to share information and medical helps. In a word, at the beginning of the emergency, nationalist feelings, so dear to Lega and Le Pen (and others), were the blatant demostration of the validity of sovereignism of far right movements, but as time passes also a stark failure. In my view, at the end of this all, states will feel more than ever the need to join in a common effort to face future pandemics, and EU will have to consider to have a central authorty governing crises of this kind.
All in all, populists and the alike movements and leaders not in power are now put in the shadow, but there persist several elements in the ways this crisis is faced by states and governments that can well be in the future the levers for a return of national egoisms. I am not totally sure, however, that public opinions, happy to have passed the storm (with some tangible changes in mentality, social sensitivity and political outlooks) will be willing to listen to the populist rhetoric as they did BEFORE.
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