Berlusconi calls for unification of right parties, but it’s not beneficial to Meloni

The three parties that make up the center-right coalition government in Italy could unite under a single flag in the run-up to the 2024 European elections.

Berlusconi wants a unification of three right parties in Italy

Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of Forza Italia, once more discussed the possibility of creating a “one party” out of the three center-right parties: Forza Italia, Matteo Salvini’s League, and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia.

“Ours is a united, credible coalition, made up of loyal relations between different political forces but capable of working together for almost thirty years. A coalition that might eventually become a single party” stated Berlusconi on social media.

The game in the European Parliament, where each is a member of a separate political family, would also be reopened if the three Italian ruling parties combined into a single party.

Fratelli d’Italia joined the Conservatives and Reformists party, whose leader is Giorgia Meloni. Forza Italia is a European People’s Party (EPP) member and the League in Identity and Democracy (ID).

Meloni has no interest in joining two parties

Before the triumph of Fratelli d’Italia, which had no interest in joining two parties that were declining in the polls, the initiative to create a federation of right-wingers was put on hold, according to Euractiv. Salvini and Berlusconi had previously discussed it.

Forza Italia and the League have both lost support over time. The League is 8.8% in the YouTrend/Agi Supermedia survey from December 23, while Forza Italia is 6.4%. Contrarily, Fratelli d’Italia has increased and now has a 30.6% market share.

If Meloni’s party “continues to expand or in any event does not halt its race, a process of inclusion will be automatic and natural,” according to Fratelli d’Italia insiders, as reported by Il Messaggero.

So, Meloni’s party can increase its support, capturing voters of two other right parties, all by nature. So join them in a united right force with little interest in “Brother of Italy.”

Meloni’s party would aim to use the upcoming European Parliament elections to defeat the Socialist party. The Qatargate scandal has severely damaged the European Commission.

Differences in Ukraine support between Meloni and Berlusconi

On the other hand, Meloni’s party and Berlusconi and Salvini have fundamental differences in foreign policy. Meloni’s government has been a strong supporter of Ukraine in helping the country to counter Russia’s war of aggression. 

On the other hand, Berlusconi and Salvini often voiced pro-Russia narratives, called to ease sanctions against Russia and seek an agreement with Moscow.

To aid Ukraine in defending itself against Russia’s aggression, the Government of Georgia Meloni approved a resolution on military support to that nation in 2023. Italy will continue to provide Ukraine with weapons in the upcoming year.

Additionally, by the end of this year or early in the following one, the Italian government may give Ukraine the sixth tranche of defense aid. This package may specifically contain the air defense systems and missiles that Ukraine has requested.

On October 22, after her cabinet was sworn in, right-wing politician Giorgia Meloni became Italy’s first female prime minister. Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Lega party and a former fervent Putin fan, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure in the administration.

Moscow is losing its Trojan horse in Italy

For many years, Matteo Salvini acted as Vladimir Putin’s loyal and beneficial ally for many years. The head of the League has repeatedly requested that the European Union’s sanctions against Russia be eased. In 2016, he traveled to the area that had been forcibly annexed and referred to the occupation of Crimea as legal.

When Lega transformed from a local movement in northern Italy to a national far-right anti-migrant party and entered the Italian government, the Kremlin significantly increased its influence. When the League joined the previous coalition, Salvini became the interior minister and deputy prime minister.

However, the Kremlin’s dependable ally and Trojan horse in Europe is gradually losing power and the ability to advance Moscow’s narratives. Salvini’s party’s support decreased from 36% in 2019 to 8.8% in the 2022 elections. Lega, however, joined the alliance of right-wing groups led by Meloni.

Russia’s narratives voiced by Berlusconi

Additionally, coalition member and veteran politician Silvio Berlusconi, who attempted to justify Russia’s war with Ukraine, also aired pro-Russian views. Former Italian Prime Minister and Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi said Ukraine was to blame for the Russian war of aggression. However, the evidence mostly refutes his assertions. In shocking remarks, Berlusconi, a guest on Porta a Porta on Rai1, claimed that Putin wanted to replace Zelensky with “good people.”

Other unsubstantiated claims made by Berlusconi echoed Kremlin themes. For instance, the leader of Forza Italia claimed that Volodymyr Zelensky had increased attacks on the Donbas since he was elected president of Ukraine and that Russian President Vladimir Putin was essentially pushed into a war that he did not want.

Pro-Kremlin propaganda in Italian media

Therefore, the risk on a global scale is that Russian propaganda and influence-peddling operatives (some of whom are powerful in Italy) may significantly impact the foreign policy choices made by the Italian government.

Russia’s campaign to defeat Ukraine and the West heavily relies on biased information from propaganda media and public opinion shapers. So, Italy has also experienced it. The Kremlin’s primary objective is to convince the Western countries not to help Ukraine. Moscow has employed ‘useful idiots,’ far-right activists, agents, and some of old Putin’s political allies.

For instance, Alessandro Orsini, a professor of sociology, was invited to appear in the Cartabianca show on the Rai-3 TV channel as an expert on the Russia-Ukraine war. His pro-Russian stances and controversial views concerning Putin’s invasion of Ukraine put him in the spotlight. Orsini blamed the West, talked of “a certain Russian win,” urged peace talks with the Kremlin, and depicted Russia’s loss in Kherson as a victory.

Meloni as a single right-wing leader

In the context of fundamental differences in foreign policy views, a hypothetical unification with smaller right parties would be a blunder for Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia. This move could even push some Fratelli d’Italia voters to turn away from the party and opt for centrist forces in the next elections. Giorgia Meloni and the party leadership certainly understand this, and Berlusconi’s call will probably still need to be answered.

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