Italy vs France vs Brexit

We take the wider European view this week, catching up with the latest developments in Italy and France. A year on from the Italian elections, who is up and who is down in the coalition between the League and Five Star? What is China up to in Italy? Has Macron really got his mojo back? Plus we ask the big question: between chaos at Westminster, riots in Paris and rabble-rousing in Rome, whose democracy is in the biggest trouble? With Lucia Rubinelli and Chris Bickerton.


Talking Points:


What’s going on in Italian politics?

  • In regional elections, the Five Star’s votes collapsed.
  • The PD, the centre-left party, now has a new leader, but at the time of the regional elections it was in transition and still beat Five Star.
  • The League has doubled its share of votes to 33-34%.
  • The new leader of the PD got elected on a platform that would bring the party further to the left. But the Renzi faction is still quite powerful.


What about France?

  • There is something taking place in France that the national conversations don’t seem to have addressed.
  • France has been through a lot of turmoil during the Macron presidency. Yet the polling is remarkably unchanged. It’s a very divided electorate, but it’s divided in basically the same ways as it was a few years ago.
  • The gilets jaunes protest is targeted at Macron and the emblems of the state.


Stepping back: In Italy, the anti-establishment parties are in power; in France, the centrist government is now facing radical street protests; and in Britain, you have Brexit. Which of these is the dominant crisis for this period in European politics?

  • Brexit is a peculiarly institutional crisis. It’s not that it isn’t important, but in France, there is a more self-evidently class-war element.
  • The Italian case is substantially different than both: it’s not an institutional crisis, at least for now. And unlike France, there isn’t opposition to what the government is doing—in fact, there’s a lot of support.
  • In Italy, the main divide isn’t education or age, but region: it’s North vs. South.


Mentioned in this Episode:


Further Learning:


And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking


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