Politico EU: Italy's 'Far-Right' Leader Giorgia Meloni 'Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Migration'

Chris Menahan
Aug. 30, 2023

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who ran as a neo-fascist, is governing as a neo-liberal and embracing record levels of immigration.

From Politico Europe, "How Italy's far-right leader learned to stop worrying and love migration":
Before becoming Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni was one of the most strident voices on migration in the European Union. As an opposition politician, she warned darkly of efforts to substitute native Italians with ethnic minorities and promised to put in place a naval blockade to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

During her time in office, she has taken a markedly different tack -- presiding over a sharp spike in irregular arrivals and introducing legislation that could see as many as 1.5 million new migrants arrive through legal channels.

Coming at a time when the right and far right are in ascendance ahead of the European Parliament election next spring, Meloni's policies represent an important course correction for the Continent's conservative bloc, as fiery rhetoric yields to the cold practicalities of governing.

"Once in government, you need to find solutions, instead of scapegoats," said Claudio Cerasa, the editor of the Italian centrist daily Il Foglio.

Meloni is presiding over a country that is economically stagnant and in demographic decline. Over the last decade, Italy has shrunk by some 1.5 million people (more than the population of Milan). In 39 of its 107 provinces, there are more retirees than workers.

It's numbers like these that prompted Italy's Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti to warn earlier this month that no reform of the pension system would "hold up in the medium-to-long term with the birth rate numbers we have today in this country."

Meloni's legal migration decree estimates Italy needs 833,000 new migrants over the next three years to fill in the gap in its labor force. It opens the door to 452,000 workers over the same period to fill seasonal jobs in sectors like agriculture and tourism as well as long-term positions like plumbers, electricians, care workers and mechanics.

"This is a super pragmatic behavior," said Matteo Villa, a migration expert at the ISPI think tank in Italy. "There has been a change in narrative."

Given Italy's rules on family reunification, which allow residents to bring in relatives, "it's easy to predict that over something like 10 years, these figures will triple," bringing in about 1.5 million migrants, said Maurizio Ambrosini, a professor of sociology and an expert on migration at Milan's university.

Meloni government's, he added, "has been pushed to implement a more realistic policy" by the entrepreneurial class that makes up an important part of its support.
Ah yes, the "entrepreneurial class" are at it again!
Meloni's about-turn hasn't gone unnoticed by her allies on the right, especially in the far-right League Party that's part of her coalition government.

"Where did the Prime Minister Meloni who was saying ‘naval blockade' go?" asked Attilio Lucia, a member of the League and the deputy mayor of Lampedusa, the tiny island where most migrants arrive. "I hoped ... now that we finally have a right-wing government the situation would change ... but the right is getting worse than the left."
Meloni is also one of the biggest cheerleaders for the war in Ukraine. She threw a fit earlier this year after not being invited to one of Zelensky's ritzy dinner parties in Paris.

She went on an unhinged rant in March screaming in parliament at members of the Five Star Movement (M5S) for calling for peace in Ukraine.

Two months later, Zelensky threw the dog a bone and let her meet with him in Rome for a photo op.

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