“Patriotic Opposition”: An Interview with Giorgia Meloni
ROME, ITALY – JUNE 2: Giorgia Meloni takes part in the demonstration against the Italian government organized by Lega, Fratelli d’Italia and Forza Italia on June 2, 2020 in Rome, Italy. Many Italian companies were allowed to reopen after more than two months of nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio / Getty Images)
In recent years Giorgia Meloni, leader of the right-wing Italian party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) has proven to be one of the most interesting politicians in Europe. Thanks in part to a change in direction by the party – and its transformation into a more conservative party – its popularity with voters has risen from 3 percent to 17 percent in recent years.
At the end of September 2020, Meloni was elected President of the Party of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR Party), which is represented in the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the Committee of the Regions and the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO. Founded in 2009, the ECR party consists of 44 national parties from around the world. These include Canada’s Conservative Party, the Forum for Democracy in the Netherlands, Poland’s Law and Justice Party, Australia’s Liberal Party, Israel’s Likud Movement, Spain’s Vox, the Sweden Democrats and the United States’ Great Old Party.
Meloni not only confines her political work to Italy or Europe, but has also built an international network – proof of her understanding that conservative political parties must work in partnership with other conservatives in order to be truly effective. This has led to her being invited to CPAC as a guest speaker in March 2019 and then asked to deliver a keynote address at Yoram Hazony’s National Conservatism Conference in Rome in early February 2020. A few days later, Meloni also spoke at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.
Today, the Fratelli d’Italia is the just The political party in Italy is said not to have joined the ruling coalition led by founding candidate Mario Draghi, the former president of the European Central Bank. Meloni has received praise for this and her party has seen a surge in support. We had the chance to speak to her recently – and conducted the following exclusive interview.
Today’s globalist left poses a threat to many things that are valuable to us: family, religion, tradition. What role can Italy play – and especially that Fratelli d’Italia– to defend against the constant attacks in these areas? What can Europeans do?
MELONI: The values of the Western tradition are under attack worldwide. It is a difficult struggle and there is a relapse on the part of the cultural and political left in efforts to suppress dissenting voices. Large financial concentrations, “big tech” and most of the media are linked to the mainstream attempt to eradicate anything related to the concepts of identity and belonging. They are trying to replace people with depersonalized individuals and communities with masses and make people perfect global consumers.
In this struggle, Europe is a fundamental battlefield, because this is where the strongest roots of our civilization lie – and it is in these trenches that we must fight. While we know that is common sense of most people [protects them from] In the globalist narrative, we need to find appropriate cultural and political expressions [for our ideas]- so that we can be a majority and change things.
The Sweden Democrats recently set up a new conservative think tank, Oikos, while the Vox party in Spain set up Disenso. Do you think there is a need in Italy for something similar – maybe a think tank near that Fratelli d’Italia?
MELONI: I think it is important that we realize that having the right ideas is not enough. We also need to have the right tools to support the “good fight”. Therefore it is also important for us to strengthen the network of conservative think tanks – also in Italy – in order to win.
Which conservative thinkers – in Italy, Europe or the USA – do you take inspiration from? What texts or ideas do you lead?
MELONI: Conservative thinking is very rich. It would be too easy to answer if one were to quote the late Sir Roger Scruton, whose absence is truly felt. We could go back in time to the works of Edmund Burke or Joseph de Maistre that went through the conservative revolution in Germany; or to the very Italian thinkers Giuseppe Prezzolini and Giovanni Papini or Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and Luigi Pirandello … and who knows how many others! At the same time we can share the teachings of two great Popes like John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Do not forget.
The best part about conservative thinking is that none of these giants are total aligned – nor can they be aligned – with an ideological orthodoxy. And that is the big – perhaps the most beautiful – difference between conservatism and leftists.
Many commentators claim that nationalism-populism – what Italians call “Sovranismo” [sovereigntism]- is dwindling and is being replaced by conservatism. Do you agree with this thesis?
MELONI: I think it’s not always easy to clearly distinguish between these two galaxies. In Italy, for example, it’s not that easy – that’s why both Words Sovranisti (Sovereignists) and Conservatory (Conservatives) appeared in the logo of our party in the last European elections . They are two terms that do not overlap but can nonetheless coexist – and the major patriotic and identity parties have an obligation to ensure that they coexist.
If we think about it, there is no real sovereignty without defending traditional values - because a people’s identity is based on them. Likewise, there is no conservatism without love for the country and defense of national interests. The real challenge then is not to see how one outweighs the other, as that would play into the hands of the globalists, but rather to create a virtuous synthesis both can grow – so that patriotic parties and their ideas grow.
What role does the United States play in the future of Europe? How do you see the possibility of maintaining an alliance with the US (especially after a change of government)?
MELONI: Europe and the United States are the two pillars of the West. They must necessarily remain allies. The strategic autonomy of Europe is a necessity, especially around the [European political landscape];; However, this should not be interpreted as friction with the US.
Unlike the many fanatical Biden enthusiasts, I don’t think Europe will benefit much from the new US administration. Of course, we must at least hope that Biden does not – according to democratic tradition – inflame the Middle East or other crisis scenarios in our vicinity. The consequences of such measures would be anything but positive or friendly for us Europeans.
How do you see relations with China in international affairs?
MELONI: I think China is a great challenge – but also a great threat. I am of course not referring to the Chinese people, who have a thousand year history that I deeply respect. I am referring to the Chinese Communist Party, which has built the largest socialist dictatorship on the planet combined with the cruelest system of contemporary capitalist exploitation.
For this reason, the realignment of the global market – the transition from the unregulated globalization of free trade to a balanced market under the motto “fair trade” – is a guiding star for us. This must be linked to the protection of human rights and the defense of religious freedom: what is happening in Hong Kong or the persecution of Catholic or Uighur minorities is not acceptable.
What is the greatest challenge for Europe and the West in the years to come?
MELONI: First and foremost, a return to growth, increasing prosperity through more equitable distribution, defending small businesses and the “real economy” that may be squeezed by high concentrations of speculative finance, and the pursuit of environmental sustainability without Forget about the economic sustainability of companies. Then we have to rediscover ours have Identify and defend the foundations of an orderly society – starting with the family and our local communities.
We also need to ensure that the West returns to the forefront of global affairs – by building alternatives to the overwhelming power of China. regional expansion attempts such as that of Erdogan Turkey included; Don’t leave Africa or leave it in the hands of a new colonialism – this time Chinese; stop (rather than encourage) uncontrolled immigration; and to defend religious freedom and to be persecuted our Christian brothers and sisters around the world.
The Fratelli d’Italiais the only party that has chosen not to join the new government led by Mario Draghi. What is the reason for this decision?
MELONI: We disagreed with the formation of this government because we believe Italy is not a second rate democracy and we could have – and should – have gone back to the elections to ask the Italians to elect a new government better than this two previous ones. We remain true to our solemn commitment to the electorate in 2018 Not form a government with the left or the [populist] Movimento 5 place (5 Star Movement or M5S) – not because we are persistent, but because we believe that with such “travel companions”, who are in many ways incompatible, there is no way of achieving what the voters want us to do .
We don’t want to be in the opposition forever. We are already in government in many important regions and cities and are preparing for the national challenge. But the right to be part of the government [due to votes obtained] does not mean that we should do this any Government. We will only enter government if voters ask us to do so with their votes – and only with our center-right allies.
The other center-right forces – the Lega and Forza Italia– joined the government instead. Isn’t that the risk of splitting Italy’s center-right position?
MELONI: We have always defended the idea of a unified center-right position. In fact, we have managed to remain united in many regions and win together – even during the so-called giallo-verde (yellow-green) season (2018-19), with [the Five-Star Movement and] the Lega in government, and the Fratelli d’Italia and Forza Italia in opposition. We hope to be able again this time, starting with the upcoming regional elections in Calabria and the administrative elections in Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin and Bologna.
Incidentally, in Parliament we will continue to chair the center-right party and defend the conservative values and the 2018 program. We will also help the center-right ministers not to be crushed by the center-right party [left-wing] Formed by the axis Partito Democratico, M5S, Italia Viva, and Liberi e Ugualiwho currently form the majority in the government line-up. And make no mistake: this would have been the case even if the Fratelli d’Italia had been in the majority.
Some commentators have said that the Fratelli d’Italia Risk of being isolated internationally. Do you think they are right?
MELONI: As president of the ECR party, which has 44 member parties and solid international relations, I find it difficult to feel isolated. Perhaps it should be remembered that in all other advanced democracies, governments are elected by the electorate – not the palace [of government]despite Draghi’s personal credibility. None of our conservative partners [across Europe] rule with the left. Paradoxically, I had Not chosen to be in opposition, which admittedly is a difficult path had I isolated myself from mine have political family.
At the beginning of this year the Fratelli d’Italia issued a vote of no confidence in the new Draghi government. Instead, you announced the formation of a “responsible opposition”. How is that going to happen?
MELONI: Actually I defined it as “patriotic Opposition.”
When measures are voted on that are real [beneficial for] Italians, we will not lack voices, just as we have never lacked voices in the past giallo-verde government[desM5Sunddes[oftheM5Sandthe[desM5Sunddes[oftheM5SandtheLega]]or during the failed Giallo Rosso (yellow-red) government[of[ofthe[des[ofthePartito Democratico and the M5S]. We will form an opposition without bias, but also without acronyms. We decided to be in the opposition I agree to have the freedom to point out when something is wrong.
This is, of course, a freedom that is restricted when the political survival of your ministers depends on the precarious balance of a heterogeneous majority. But it is good that we exercised this freedom. otherwise we would have had a government with us No Opposition in general – which would have made Italy more of North Korea than a Western democracy.
The environment is playing an increasingly important role for both the left and the right. Although the left consistently tries to claim sole ownership of it, there is a tradition on the right that supports protection and environmental stewardship. What do you think the agenda for “green conservatism” should be?
MELONI: Conservation is central to conservative thinking. Finally, the term “home”, which in a metaphysical sense describes the “land of our fathers”, is closely linked to the term “land”, which is understood as “territory”.
I grew up with the ideas of Paolo Colli, the founder of the first right-wing environmental organization in Italy. Verde tariff. In contrast to the ideological environmental protection of certain left-wing parties, I do not consider the presence of people or their activities as such [contrary to the] Environmental Protection. The challenge for a modern right-wing government is to combine environmental concerns with economic growth. Imposing unattainable goals and ever new burdens and costs on companies carries the risk of paying much higher social costs.
We conservatives, on the other hand, believe that companies have to be led towards ecological change. The incentives for renewable energies must be put in order and invested in alternative fuels – but always with a view to technological neutrality and ensuring a broad energy mix. There’s no point in imagining a world where we buy everything from China – where things are often made by burning coal and where they don’t even know where to dump waste – while we have Italian and European supply chains (like z in natural gas), which can be very useful for an ecological transition.
Once again, our attitude is pragmatic and realistic – one that combines a love of nature, the protection of our landscapes and the sustainability of ecosystems with human activities.
Francesco Giubilei is an Italian publisher, founder of Nazione Futura and President of the conservative Tatarella Foundation. His book,History of European Conservative Thoughtwas published by Regnery in 2019.
Alvino-Mario Fantini is the editor of The European Conservative in Vienna, Austria.
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