The popular exit of Britain from EU naturally triggered concerns within for another fallout. Though the benefits of Brexit appear to be blurry for Britain itself, its departure is definitely a wakeup call for all other involved states. Yet, presently for Europe, the after-effects of Brexit was the least of its worries, due to the 2018 Italian elections.
This appeared to be a ticking debacle for Europe, primarily due to the existing internal dynamics of Italy, which steered concerns for analyst across the globe due to the multitude of reasons. The foremost being its weak economy and the escalated political riots.
In addition, the economic forecast also displayed a dreary picture and was influenced by a myriad of factors such as high levels of public-sector debts to mounting governmental debts, the unemployment levels were 2% higher than the Eurozone average and its slothful economic growth. Statistics showcased that despite being the third-largest in the Eurozone, Italy was one of the slowest growing and most indebted ones; as it holds a public debt at around 130 percent of its GDP, and is second only to Greece, at 180 percent— which is a troubling picture.
For few, the understanding depicted that the explosive migrant situation coincided with Italy’s underperforming economy. Such perceptions were dangerous for EU in terms that it brings forth voters that support politicians whose policies were very much in the clash with EU. Therefore, if political instability is heightened, such a crisis would have a similar ripple effect for Europe. The recent shootings, beatings, and stabbings have amplified apprehensions of a “revival of fascist sentiment”, which in turn are also generating anti-fascists demonstrations across Italy.
Demonstrators moved forward to show their support against Fascism, which is a peril for democracy and co-existence. The reports indicated that the as the elections dates grew closer, the extremist violence heightened—for analysts it was a clear indicator that these developments took a plunging toll on the government spending. The concern persisted that revival of fascist sentiments could pull Europe back to its dark history, yet, what was distressing in the whole scenario was that a few political parties are endorsing such sentiments by endorsing slogan “Italy first”.
Which are approved by masses and evidence of violence in recent years are the clear depiction of that. In addition, these sentiments are indirectly or directly instigating sentiments of mass violence against migrants which will be disastrous for its plunging economy. Such sentiments also shake the foundations for EU that if any similar event as Brexit hits the marks—it would be tragic. As Italians are generally losing their support for Euro, Italy will additionally lose its pull of soft power which it can effectively use to stabilize its economy.
Though, some parties endorse the development of Italian currency to enhance their trade perspectives, indicating their mistrust in euro. The domestic situation is weary as the gap amidst elites and masses is getting higher—and most likely, such larger gaps will fuel the masses against the credibility of the government. In recent years, the emerging 5star party had already steered their support on this basis.
A wave of uncertainty within EU existed due to the Italian elections, as on one end, Britain has silently entered into a cold war with EU in attempts to find its mark in the international market. For Italian leaders, it cannot be ignored that Britain’s economic fortunes can also put pressure on its economy, as it would have to increase its contributions towards the EU budget. Secondly, the existence of potential barriers to Britain market also prevails, putting Italy in a tricky position due to its reliance on Britain exports. Such conditions will enforce EU to find a suitable ground deal with Britain after Brexit episode.
Whatever the outcome of Italian elections, the analyst could foresee that the only happy player at the end of this episode would be Russia. The prolonged EU sanctions upon Russia did not hold much influence; furthermore, in the French election scenario, Emmanuel Macron accession into power displayed how he was the only candidate endorsing anti-Kremlin line. The tables had turned completely in favor of Russia in the Italian scenario, as every major political party held a soft spot for Russia.
For e.g ties between Berlusconi and Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot be ignored by the analysts around the globe. On the other hand, Matteo Salvini, along with most of the European far-right holds immense admiration for the Kremlin. Simultaneously, anti-establishment 5stars also supports and calls out for reduced Italian role in NATO and the immediate end of sanctions against Russia. Russia can enhance its foothold in the European economy can successfully compete with China in the old yet new game of economic power.
With the brewing situation, whatever outcome Italian elections had brought forward, tensions within EU would likely soar to the sky. If it loses another critical player of Europe than the chances of the downward spiral of EU is likely higher. On the other end, the fear of fascist sentiments over spilling across other parts of Europe also prevails. Threatening the stability of the foundational pillars of democracy— the crisis in Europe can act as another game changer for the Asian markets and further ruffle the battle of power in the tiers of the international system. A dim chance of the emergence of the multipolar world is changing the tactics of all the actors— and the outcome can pose a greater challenge to the Western system.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.