The Chinese trojan horse also known as the Chinese Silk Road has landed in Italy. It has since sparked controversy inside and outside the Mediterranean country. The “New Silk Road” is the term for a trade corridor Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed in 2013. The grand design also goes by the name of The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); it is a “belt” of overland corridors and a “road” of shipping lanes.
By Kevin Doremus | United States
Ideas of closed and open borders have dominated topics on migration in the American context. The debates focus on what immigration policies should be instead of focusing attention on what is occurring in the international system. Questions of western identity infuse themselves into the discussion. Western societies are gripped by the conflict between differing conceptions of the nation and idealism.
By James Sweet III | Italy
In Italy, the xenophobic League party, led by Matteo Salvini, has organized a governing coalition with the Euroskeptic Five Star Movement, led by Luigi Di Maio. This new government would be heavily based on Euroskeptism, populism, and skepticism to refugees and immigrants.
Giuseppe Conte, a law professor at Florence University, is going to become the next Prime Minister. With the nation being the third largest economy in the European Union, other members fear for the future for the European Union’s overall economy. Both parties support cuts in taxes while also increasing spending, a harmful move for a nation whose debt has recently soared to become 132% of its total GDP. For comparison, that is the second worst in the European Union, with Greece being the first. 15% of the European Union’s total GDP derives from Italy, and 23% of its debt belongs to the nation.
The two parties have agreed on three major policies: universal basic income, tax cuts, and a lower pension age. The proposed basic income would be €780 a month, which is equivalent to $917. The proposed cuts to taxes would lower the rates to a number between 15% and 20%. Capital Economics predicts that, if these policies were enacted, Italian debt would rise by 150%, relative to their GDP, over the next five years.
Federico Santi, an analyst at Eurasia Group, stated, “their plans on fiscal policy would result in a huge increase in the deficit, a blatant violation of EU deficit rules. If implemented in their current form [these proposals] would still result in an additional €100 billion ($117.8 billion) in additional spending or lower revenue.”
Member nations, like France, are concerned over the new government of Italy, with the Economy Minister of France, Bruno Le Maire, believing the stability of the Eurozone would be at stake. Euroskeptism is rising in the Union, and it’s only time until they reach a breaking point.
On Sunday, frustrated voters turned out in force throughout Italy to vote for the Northern League Party, an anti-immigrant right wing group of break off politicians spearheaded by Matteo Salvini. The vote decided who would lead the right coalition in Italy on election day this fall and the surprise victory gives Salvini the right to name the next Prime Minister candidate for Italy which will likely be himself. On the campaign trail, The Northern League promised to throw out illegals that have made Italy home under lax immigration policies over the past half decade. The Northern League’s leader, Matteo Salvini, has been a constant thorn in Silvio Berlusconi’s side and is a well known commodity in the right wing politics of Italy where he is often seen as a brasher, cruder, and harder edged version of Berlusconi.
— Voice of Europe 🌍 (@V_of_Europe) March 5, 2018
The Northern League captured a much larger share of the vote on Sunday than analysts expected as Salvini railed agains the involvement of Italy in the European Union. Similar to the shockwaves experienced across Europe when Nigel Farage led an exodus of The United Kingdom from centralized european politics, so too was Salvini able to capture the nationalist sentiment of a frustrated Italian public.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) March 5, 2018
Salvini is most noted for his fiery rhetoric that has called for the razing of Roma camps and an impassioned defending of the fascist policies of WWII dictator Benito Mussolini. The Northern League leader has attacked NATO and mocked the failures of european centralized economic and cultural planning. Salvini’s party, who garnered 16% of the vote, managed to more than quadruple their electoral showing from 2013 when they received 4%.
Italy First, anti-migrant, "send em all back to their sh*thole countries – Matteo Salvini has crushed Silvio Berlusconi!
He will lead populous/nationalist coalition that has won the largest share of the vote in Italy's election. Pray he stays strong! #DChttps://t.co/I8MdDXQ1R0
— Bruce Porter, Jr. (@NetworksManager) March 5, 2018
In a speech to the public after his preliminary victory, Salvini had the following to say:
It’s an extraordinary victory, which fills us with pride, joy and responsibility. I see it as a vote for the future; the Italians have rewarded the future!
Although his anti-immigrant rhetoric seems in lock step with Donald Trump and Hungary’s Viktor Orban, the 44 year old Salvini is actually a self proclaimed communist from Milan. Mr. Salvini has run an electric campaign that has seen him travel far and wide across Italy with a message of Italian nationalism that is reaching a public with many fears and doubts about the future of their country.
Italy’s economy has stagnated in recent years and has yet to recover from the collapse of 2008. An admirer of Putin, he has nurtured close ties with the Russian government and called for an easing of punishment and regulations on the North Asian empire. In his speeches, Salvini has praised open and free markets while calling for lower taxes in hopes of making Italy a more attractive nation for businesses:
An Italy that collects lower taxes, that has well-defined times for the court proceedings, and that has less bureaucracy is good news that reassures the markets
Citing a lack of consistency on ideas, Salvini dismissed working with the 5 Star Movement, another outsider political group, that garnered the largest single party vote share on Sunday outside the right coalition. Salvini is seen as a hard line protectionist who has pointed to imported Tunisian oil and Moroccan oranges as proof that Italy must make strong and fast decisions to protect their national economy.
Salvini has been at the center of some controversy as he has not shied away from what some see as a lingering fascist foothold throughout the country. He has floated working with CasaPound, a neo-fascist group, if they are capable of attaining a 3% vote threshold. While the global media suggests he is a dangerous enemy of freedom, many throughout Italy speak about Salvini in a different way. They see The Northern League as representing the dignity and honor of the Italian people who have been sold a bill of globalist goods over the course of two economically plodding decades.
Sunday’s vote signals the likely end of the aging Berlusconi’s career.